So Much Unnecessary Suffering


Do you ever wonder if you will be one of the poor unfortunate souls to live or die in excruciating pain? In the last couple of decades modern science in the western world has improved to such an extent that this should no longer be as great a worry. Yet, even though we have made great improvements in pain management, we still need to be concerned. For various reasons many still suffer, but not like those that live in the third world.

In COLF’s recent publication, Living, Suffering, and Dying, we are reminded that life is a gift from God, and that human suffering has been transformed by the Cross of Christ – no suffering is useless when joined to Christ’s suffering. But this by no means advocates unnecessary suffering. The Christian Gospel is about loving God and neighbor. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me. (Matt.25:40) All Christians, and men and women of good will should be concerned about so much untreated and scandalous suffering and advocate for greater global concern.


The World Health Organizationestimates that 4.8 million people a year with moderate to severe cancer pain receive no appropriate treatment. Nor do another 1.4 million with late-stage AIDS. For other causes of lingering pain — burns, car accidents, gunshots, diabetic nerve damage, sickle-cell disease and so on — it issues no estimates but believes that millions go untreated.

About half the six million cancer deaths in the world last year were in poor countries, and most diagnoses were made late, when death was inevitable. But first, there was agony. About 80 percent of all cancer victims suffer severe pain, the W.H.O. estimates, as do half of those dying of AIDS.

Figures gathered by the International Narcotics Control Board, a United Nationsagency, make it clear: citizens of rich nations suffer less. Six countries — the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Britain and Australia — consume 79 percent of the world’s morphine, according to a 2005 estimate. The poor and middle-income countries where 80 percent of the world’s people live consumed only about 6 percent. (This excerpt is from the New York Times – read full article)

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