Celebrated every year on the third Monday in October, the Global Day against Pain is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) which considers that the “treatment of pain and palliative care form an integral part of the right to enjoy good health.” According to IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain), one in five people suffer from moderate or strong chronic pain, and such pain renders one in three people incapable, or hardly capable of leading an independent life. Additionally, one in four people claim that their pain interferes with or destroys their relations with family and friends.
Science has made enormous progress concerning analgesic treatments. The medical culture has gradually accepted the essential nature of pain relief, by developing for example the use of morphine, and the adoption of pain evaluation and self-evaluation tables.
Regarding “moral” pain, the suffering inherent in the ordeals of life, these are also better considered, heard and accompanied. This is a vital factor in the prevention of suicide.
There has therefore never been such help in the fight against pain but there remains progress to be achieved regarding the generalization of access to pain relief and for the spreading of the palliative care culture.
Again this year, many hospitals and associations contributed to this special day through multiple initiatives. For instance the Cahors hospital centre which installed stands in the entrance hall to inform the public on the different types of pain and on the day to day work by the medical teams for pain relief. Or the Lille Catholic Institute Hospitals Group which devoted the entire 18th October to sessions and workshops on the theme of “Pain and Handicap”. Or again the Committee for the Fight against Pain (CLUD) which set up different stands at the Reims CHU hospital on 17th October and in particular gave a presentation of the different tools available for the evaluation of pain.
The Soulager mais pas tuer (Relieve but not kill) collective, consisting of medical workers and citizens, promoted by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, was also mobilized on 18th October under the slogan “Never alone with pain” and the hashtag #toujoursenvie on social media.
Several hundred volunteers were deployed to meet the public, to inform them on the fight against pain, a challenge for humanity which concerns us all.
Established in 2014, the Soulager mais pas tuer collective militates against both intensive medication and euthanasia and medical termination and pleads for a proper palliative care culture. Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, its patron, who inspired the actor François Cluzet in the film The Untouchables, bore witness in an interview published on the Faire-face.fr web site in August on the neurological pain which he suffers and which few treatments are able to relieve, where he stated: “What motivates me, is the will to be fully present in my existence and to share it in respect for others”.
Suffering from an incurable neurodegenerative disease, the spokesperson of the “100% vivants” (100% alive) association, which belongs to the collective, was interviewed by La Croix. Caroline Brandicourt described that as far as she is concerned “The worst thing is to hear that a life is not worth living if you become incontinent and unable to move. That is my everyday life and it does not prevent me from being happy. I refuse to be pressurized to choose between suffering and dying. There is a third way. To live without suffering, since science makes it possible, and to recover what is essential: love for others.
As the debate is opening on the end of life, remember that euthanasia and medical termination are not inevitable and that the relief of pain and the deployment of palliative care everywhere in France must be the priority and concern to us all.