Professor David Oliver, University of Kent, UK, is a member of the board of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) and represents the EAPC on the Civil Society Forum on Drugs.
The EAPC has recently become more involved in the activities of the European Union (EU). In 2015, we were invited to join the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSF) within the EU. This group was formed many years ago to provide expert advice to the European Commission (EC) on drug control and management – see an earlier post on the EAPC Blog.
Over the past year, the CSF has been helping the EU prepare for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drug Control (UNGASS). This took place in New York in April 2016 and an outcome document was negotiated and then adopted by the UN General Assembly. The EU had provided significant input on how to incorporate a health and human rights approach towards drugs for this UNGASS and, as part of the CSF, the EAPC was able to push for a section on the availability of medication for pain control within the EU statements. This was included in the final UNGASS outcome document, and had been supported by various non-governmental organisations and UN agencies, including the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, Human Rights Watch and the World Health Organization. This was the first time, in the history of modern global drug control, that access to controlled substances for medical purposes was given such prominence in the debates and final declaration.
The EAPC’s involvement has continued over the past few months since UNGASS. The CSF on Drugs has given increasing input in the EU positions at the Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) in Vienna. The EC had asked for examples of good practice to put forward to the latest CND sessions that focused on how governments were implementing the recommendations included in the UNGASS outcome document at national level. We were able to suggest the need for the availability of medication for pain control, and provided as an example of good practice in Europe the ATOME (Access to Opioid Medication in Europe) project. The EU took this forward and a statement was sent to the CND Intersessional Meeting held on 10 October. (Read more on the CND blog).
The involvement of the EAPC within the European Civil Society Forum on Drugs shows the importance of greater involvement with the EU and the need to continue pushing for better access to essential medicines across Europe. The CSF has been very welcoming of the EAPC and our role in emphasising the medical and scientific use of opioids, and the importance of ensuring that medical use is not compromised by the controls on drug misuse. This has allowed us to be more involved at a European level and we hope to develop other links over the coming years. Engagement in the CSF may also enable us to influence care and developments across Europe. Now that the EAPC has an office in Brussels this will help to ensure that we are more visible within the European Union and Commission.
Links and resources
- View the short report from the meeting of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs, held in Brussels early in November.
- Access to Opioid Medication in Europe – Final report and recommendations to the Ministries of Health; L Radbruch, S Jünger, S Payne, W Scholten (eds.). Report, Pallia Med Verlag, Bonn, 2014. Download a copy here.
Are you joining us in Madrid for the 15th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care?
Please visit the congress website here. Early Bird registration closes on 15 February 2017!