A Sip Of Morphine: Uganda's Old-School Solution To A Shortage Of Painkillers

Ronald Mutyaba, an auto mechanic, at his home in Kampala, Uganda. Mutyaba is HIV positive and has developed Karposi sarcoma, a type of cancer that often affects people with immune deficiencies. He is holding a bottle of the liquid morphine that nurses from the nonprofit group Hospice Africa have prescribed to help control the pain caused by his illlness. Nurith Aizenman/NPR

In the United States, drugmakers have flooded the market with powerful, sophisticated opioids. And that's fueled an epidemic of addiction. But across Africa many patients can't afford even mild painkillers — let alone medications to help people in extreme pain.

Uganda has come up with a solution that goes back to basics with one of the world's original painkillers: morphine.