The Pain Project

Imagine recovering from major surgery or suffering from advanced cancer without any painkillers. That’s reality for patients in half of the world — but it’s not about money or a lack of drugs. I travelled to Uganda to find out why so many people needlessly suffer the torture of untreated pain, while colleagues of mine from UBC’s International Reporting Program visited Ukraine and India to discover the varied cultural explanations.

The resulting documentary Freedom From Pain uncovers indelible patient stories, and reveals the main impediments to a pain-free world are bureaucratic hurdles and the chilling effect of the global war on drugs. It has received widespread attention since first airing on Al Jazeera English’s program People & Power on July 20, 2011. Major medical journals like the New England Journal of Medicine and Anesthesiology News wrote stories about the report’s findings, as did mainstream publications like The Guardian, India Times, and the Utne Reader. It won second place in the 2011 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism’s Public Health category. Footage and reporting from the project was also broadcast by Global News.


CBS Sunday Morning aired the short documentary A World of Pain on March 11, 2012, which features reporting and filming from my group’s visit to Uganda. The small, war-torn country stands as a model for palliative care in Africa, despite its limited medical resources. We teamed up with Bob Simon of 60 Minutes to reveal how the country is trying to ease the pain of thousands of Ugandans.

Our team also created a multimedia website called The Pain Project, which won Gold and Silver at the 2013 Canadian Online Publishing Awards for Best Video or Multimedia Feature and Best Overall Online-only Publication Website respectively.

You can view two videos I produced for the project below.

 The Ugandan Model: The Right to Hospice for All


Traditional Healers: A Proud Tradition