About the International Pain Summit

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We aim to improve the quality of life for people living with pain and to minimize the burden of pain on individuals and communities worldwide.


Worldwide, there is increasing awareness of the human suffering, health care burden, and economic impact created by under-treated pain of all types, including acute pain, chronic pain, pain caused by health conditions such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, and pain caused by treatments such as surgery and radiotherapy.

Although medical science has the capacity to relieve most moderate to severe pain, over 80% of the world population in pain still have no access to appropriate analgesia, including access to potent opioids such as morphine. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 5 billion people live in countries with low or no access to controlled medicines and have no or insufficient access to treatment for moderate to severe pain. The WHO Pain Relief Ladder recommends the administration of different types of analgesics based on the severity of the pain and relies on the permanent availability of opioid analgesics.

Chronic pain is a one of the most significant causes of suffering and disability worldwide, and a common symptom of both cancer and HIV/AIDS. Up to 70% of cancer patients suffer from pain and, among individuals living with HIV/AIDS, wide estimates of pain prevalence at all stages of infection have been reported. While pain prevalence is diminished among individuals on antiretroviral therapy, studies continue to document the under-treatment of pain, even among individuals being treated for HIV infection. Pain treatment is also related to gender, as HIV-infected women with pain are twice as likely to be under-treated as their male counterparts.

Pain has a profound impact on the quality of life and can have physical, psychological and social consequences. It can lead to reduced mobility and a consequent loss of strength, compromise the immune system and interfere with a person’s ability to eat, concentrate, sleep, or interact with others as the physical and psychological effects of chronic pain influence the course of disease. Chronic pain can indirectly influence disease outcomes by reducing treatment adherence.

The International Pain Summit in Montréal was the first global meeting about the crucial aspects of pain management, with a focus on advocacy and assistance for all countries to develop national pain strategies.

Goals for the 2010 Pain Summit

  • To develop a set of desirable characteristics of national pain strategies that can be agreed upon internationally. Individual countries can then use these broad principles to more fully develop specific strategies based on their own local requirements.
  • To gain the attention of communities, the media, and governments about the magnitude of the health and economic problem of untreated acute pain, chronic pain, and pain caused by cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases and treatments.
  • To involve health ministers and other government officials in developing and implementing national pain strategies.
  • To begin to develop “best practice” models of service delivery.
  • To contribute to the destigmatization of chronic pain.
  • To draw further attention to pain relief as a fundamental human right.
  • To advocate for increased emphasis on and support of pain education and research.


IASP gratefully acknowledges the members of the International Pain Summit Steering Committee for their passion and hard work on this important event:

Michael Cousins, Chair (Australia)
Harald Breivik (Norway)
Mary Cardosa (Malaysia)
Jim Cleary (USA)
Beverly Collett (UK)
Liliana De Lima (USA)
Rollin M. Gallagher (USA)
Maija Haanpaa (Finland)
Amira Karkin-Tais (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Philipp M. Lippe (USA)
Diederik Lohman (USA)
Henry Lu (Philippines)
Mary Lynch (Canada)
Germán Ochoa (Colombia)
Cathy Price (UK)
M. R. Rajagopal (India)
Olaitan Soyannwo (Nigeria)

Thank you!