Closing the Pain Divide

April 2014

This international workshop focuses on closing the pain divide: the lack of access to pain control around the world, especially amongst the poor which causes millions around the world to needlessly suffer. The pain divide is one of the most unjust of health disparities, especially when affordable and effective solutions are available to remedy this grave inequity. Political will and regulatory barriers often serve as major obstacles, as well as the dearth in human resources and knowledge about palliative care. This topic, precisely because it is so painful, has largely been ignored. Hence, we can only begin to address challenges by identifying gaps in research and coordinated action that could lead to change.
The main objectives of this workshop are fourfold: 1) develop a work plan for the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control (GTF.CCC) efforts on this priority area; 2) convene partners within and beyond Harvard to hold a multidisciplinary and interinstitutional discussion on pain control and palliative care; 3) promote interdisciplinary and policy-oriented research across the faculties at Harvard on this crosscutting field; and 4) provide a forum to dialogue on challenges and opportunities at the global and national levels to identify key recommendations for forward action.
The immediate outcome of the workshop will be a statement to be issued based on the proceedings and with concrete recommendations at various levels and across sectors to bolster the global movement on pain control and palliative care.  The discussion will bring together partners from various countries around the world and across country income levels, including Mexico, Uganda, and India to exchange country-specific experiences. Sessions will also include a focus on gender equity and private sector engagement when considering innovative strategies to close the pain divide.