WMA Resolution on Poppies for Medicine Project for Afghanistan

Adopted by the 59th WMA General Assembly, Seoul, Korea, October 2008

Whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that a small number of countries in the world consume 80% of the opiates legally available worldwide, leaving significant unmet needs in the rest of the world, especially in developing countries;

Whereas morphine and diamorphine play an essential role in the treatment of moderate and severe pain, especially in meeting the pain needs of the growing number of end-stage HIV/AIDS and cancer patients;

Whereas the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has asked the international community to promote the prescription of painkillers, especially in poor countries, as severe under-treatment is reported in more than 150 countries where hardly anyone in need of treatment is being treated, and in another 30 countries, where under-treatment is even more prevalent or where no data are available;

Whereas there exists an illegal opium crisis in Afghanistan, with growing poppy cultivation and opium production;

Therefore, the World Medical Association:

  • Supports the investigation of possibilities for the controlled production of opium for medical purposes in Afghanistan through a scientific pilot project in Afghanistan; and
  • Urges governments to support a scientific pilot project to investigate whether certain areas of Afghanistan could provide the right conditions for the strictly controlled production of morphine and diamorphine for medical purposes.