For Peace and Pain: The Medical Legitimization of Afghanistan’s Poppy Crop

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 65, pp. 396-398, 2011

3 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2011

See all articles by Amir Attaran

Amir Attaran

University of Ottawa - Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine; University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Andrew Boozary

University of Ottawa - Ottawa Aesculapian Society

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, there has been an overall increase in illicit opium production in Afghanistan and mounting human losses. The United Nations has attributed 1 million human deaths to Afghan opiates over the past decade. As the war in Afghanistan nears a crucial mark, the NATO coalition forces and Afghan people can no longer afford the same ineffective counternarcotics strategy. This commentary proposes a strategic revision that reframes Afghanistan’s poppy problem as an opportunity for global public health. Specifically, The Afghan poppy crop could be repurposed away from illicit drug production, and towards manufacturing licit opioid analgesics to address unmet needs for pain palliation, particularly for diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer in the developing world that is, illegal opium could be converted into legal pain medicine, solving two problems at once. We present a supply-and demand that illustrates how this useful exchange could be made, and discuss the political opposition that now stands in the way and perpetuates the unsatisfactory status quo in Afghanistan.

Suggested Citation

Attaran, Amir and Boozary, Andrew, For Peace and Pain: The Medical Legitimization of Afghanistan’s Poppy Crop (2011). Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 65, pp. 396-398, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1907928

Amir Attaran (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine ( email )

451 Smyth Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5
Canada

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada
613-562-5800 ext: 2015 (Phone)
613-562-5659 (Fax)

Andrew Boozary

University of Ottawa - Ottawa Aesculapian Society ( email )

2292 Edwin Crescent
Ottawa, Ontario K2C 1H7
Canada

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