Don’t take any form of opioid without prescription— Nsiah-Asare

BY: Makafui Adzo Aklorbortu
Prof. Jacob Plange-Rhule (right), interacting with Dr Anothony Nsiah-Asare after the symposium
Prof. Jacob Plange-Rhule (right), interacting with Dr Anothony Nsiah-Asare after the symposium

The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, has advised people who just take any form of opioid (a broad group of pain-relieving drugs that work by interacting with opioid receptors in the human cell), without prescription to put a stop to it, since it is detrimental to one’s health.

"Be it tramadol or any other drug which are considered as opioids, let us do well to stay away from them.

“Tramadol is a prescription drug, under no circumstance should any one buy this drug from drug peddlers on the streets," he added

The Director-General was speaking at the opening ceremony of an event dubbed: The Pain Symposium, which was held in Accra on Friday, August 17.

It was aimed at providing the opportunity for participants to consider the knotty issues related to pain management in the Ghanaian context and also to present innovative approaches and solutions to solve many aspects of the problem.

Study by WHO

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1998, people who lived with chronic pain were four times more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.


The study further ascertained that chronic pain could directly influence disease outcomes by reducing its treatment effectiveness.

Dr Nsiah-Asare said although inexpensive and effective pain relief medicines were available, there were tens of millions of people in and around the world, including Ghana, who continued to suffer from moderate to severe pain each year without treatment.

"For too long, pain and its management have over the years been shrouded in myth, irrationality, ignorance and cultural bias," he said.

Painkillers

He mentioned that according to International Human Rights Law, countries had to provide pain treatment medications as part of their core obligations under the right to health.

Failure to take reasonable steps, he said, might result in the violation of the obligation to protect against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to people who suffered pain to have adequate access to pain treatment.

"Over the years, our facilities in Ghana offer pain management services to clients in need of them. We may have been slow in our pace due to the whole concept of pain management so there is the need to manage it effectively since it is recognised as a human right for health,” he added.

Palliative care

For his part, the Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule, called on the Medical and Dental Council of Ghana and other sister postgraduate medical institutions in Ghana to review their curricula in order to integrate the modern approach to pain and palliative care from basic sciences to clinical sciences.

Professor Plange-Rhule stated that in respect of access to pain medication, particularly opioids, the Ministry of Health, the Food and Drugs Authority and the Narcotics Control Board should work closely with prescribers and patient representatives in order to ensure adequate and reasonable quantities of a variety of opioids were made available at reasonable costs.

Collaborative effort

The Chairman of the Governing Council of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Yao Yeboah, said there was a collaborative effort to fight against drug abuse, specifically the misuse of pain killers such as tramadol among the youth and pethidine among health workers.