Tag Archives: Unreported World

4 year old who featured in Channel 4 documentary on palliative care has passed away

I have today written for ehospice about 4 year old Abdurahmane who featured on Channel 4’s ‘Unreported World’ documentary who has sadly passed away just a few days after the powerful documentary was shown. Like so many that heard his story I am really sad to have heard this news. I am writing now to encourage you to watch this Channel 4 documentary that looks at access to basic pain medications in Senegal.

Abdurahmane has passed away but I hope his death, as his life was, might be part of what brings about the change so desperately needed in many countries around the world – by no means just Senegal! 

unreported world

This is what I wrote for ehospice:

The life of 4 year old Abdurahmane touched the lives of millions. Abdurahmane had retinal cancer and featured on Channel 4’s ‘Unreported World’ documentary looking at shortages of pain medications across Africa and specifically in Abdurahmane’s home of Senegal.

At the time of filming the documentary he had been in the hospital for three months, receiving chemotherapy, which had shrunk the tumour in his eye.

Abdurahmane had also been one of the few people in Senegal to receive morphine to control the pain he was in. The documentary explained that when stocks are low, the hospital pharmacy gives children priority to the morphine. Sadly though, even in this specialist unit the stocks of morphine sometimes run out.

Human Rights Watch last year highlighted that the authorities in Senegal allow only a very small amount of morphine into the country each year. It is thought they import as little as just one kg, enough to treat about 200 cancer patients when there is demand for tens of thousands of patients in severe pain.

It was through the story of Abdurahmane though that this problem was highlighted to the millions of viewers around the world who would have by now watched the documentary.

It was with great sadness then that a few days after the programme first being shown we learnt of Abdurahmane death.

The award winning journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy who met Abdurahmane and built up a relationship with him broke the sad news on twitter saying:

“Very sorry to say that 4 year old abdourahmane who we filmed about morphine shortages has died”

The impact that Abdurahmane had on the viewers was immediately obvious in the string of responses from memebers of the public.

It is hoped that Abdurahmane life and death will continue to inspire and will drive the change in Senegal that is so desperately needed.

More information:

You can watch the documentary for a limited period on the Channel 4 On Demand facility by clicking here.

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Channel 4 looks at Africa’s scandalous shortage of pain medications

“without the political will to change, vulnerable people remain deprived of humane treatment and an end to life free of pain.” 

This is the conclusion of the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Africa’s Drug Scandal’ that I helped to coordinate through my work – the African Palliative Care Association. The documentary is due to be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK at 7:35pm on Friday 30th May 2014.

I am posting about it here because it strikes me as a rare opportunity to get a large number of people thinking about an issue that is incredibly important to me.

The documentary focuses in on the issue of access to pain medications – predominantly oral morphine. Having access to such medication is something that most people in the UK take for granted. If you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness tomorrow you would assume that you would be given the appropriate pain control that would firstly enable you to live your life to the full but secondly, would enable you to die a peaceful death.

For the majority of people in the world this is simply not the case. Indeed, as ehospice reported last November, due to a lack of access to inexpensive and effective essential opioids more than 4 billion people, over half the world population, live in countries where regulatory barriers leave cancer patients suffering excruciating pain.

In countries like Senegal where the documentary is set the situation is dire. Last October Human Rights Watch found that the government only imports about one kilogram of morphine each year – enough to treat about 200 cancer patients when there is an estimated need in the tens of thousands of patients!

And so, this is one of the corner stones of my organisations work – to lobby, offer training, educate and empower people to ensure that everyone has access to the pain medications they need.

unreported world

It might seem like an abstract issue, but as Krishnan Guru-Murthy, the renowned Channel 4 reporter finds out, once you see a patient suffering in unbearable but perfectly treatable pain you instantly understand the importance of the issue.

Guru-Murthy concludes the situation amounts to “needless cruelty”.

I find it impossible to see how anyone, when faced with this reality could conclude anything different.

The programme can be watched live online here, on 4OD for 30 days after broadcast here, and you can read a preview in the Radio Times here.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

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