According to the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board, six countries account for more than 79 percent of the world’s morphine consumption. The remainder is consumed by low- and middle-income countries. In 2016, the United States consumed morphine per person, nearly 17 times more than Sierra Leone did. In a 2011 study, the International Narcotics Control Board found that fewer than six percent of the world’s opium production is used as morphine.
Many physicians in many countries have an old attitude about drug use
Despite the availability of morphine in the developing world, the ban on the drug is still a long way off. Currently, it is a relatively cheap medicine – a three-week supply costs less than a loaf of bread. Despite this, a majority of developing countries continue to deny patients access to this treatment. Many doctors in those countries have outdated attitudes about the use of narcotics. Most Western medical schools taught them to be highly addictive and to use them sparingly.
In Uganda, liquid morphine is available and affordable for patients with severe pain. A three-week supply costs less than a loaf of bread. However, despite the fact that morphine is a cheap, effective drug, its use is routinely denied in many poor countries. Many developing countries still hold outdated beliefs about narcotics, including its abuse potential. Until recently, Western medical schools taught that narcotics are dangerous, addictive, and should be used sparingly.