A world of pain

About 80 percent of the world's population has limited or no access to the painkiller morphine.

For most people in the developed world, painkillers for disease or for recovery from surgery are just a prescription away. Not so for people in much of the rest of the world. They live, quite literally, in a world of pain. Bob Simon of "60 Minutes" teamed up with students from the University of British Columbia's International Reporting Program to see first-hand how one country is trying to ease the pain:

In a small village in southern Uganda, outside a town called Mbarara, sits the house of Josephine Nimaya. An infection has disfigured her feet, and the pain would be excruciating, if it wasn't for the red liquid the nurses just delivered to her.

It's the same stuff that's delivered through IV pumps in every American hospital - morphine.

But here it's taken by mouth, and it comes in recycled water bottles.

Morphine is also what has helped Patrick Sabwe, who used to be a fisherman but is now confined to his shack because he has AIDS and the painful Karposi's sarcoma rash that often accompanies the infection.

Hellen Birungi, a healthcare worker, has been taking care of Patrick for months. "He couldn't sit, the legs were so swollen," she explained. She brings him morphine.

Before the morphine, Patrick wasn't able to walk - he had to be brought in a wheelchair. "So after, like, two weeks of morphine he started walking," said Birungi.

That may sound unremarkable, but in Uganda and many other countries it's nothing short of a miracle.

The fact is, 80 percent of the world's population lives in countries with little or no access to morphine. That's roughly 5 billion people making do with just 5 percent of the global supply.

Compare that with a handful of wealthy nations, including the U.S.: With just 5 percent of the world population, they consume 95 percent of the morphine.

Which means, for millions, scenes of screaming agony by patients are all too common.

Human Rights Watch, an international organization widely known for fighting torture, among other things, has recently taken up the issue of global pain.

Diederik Lohman, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, said he has spoken with patients who have told him they commit suicide because the pain was simply unbearable.

"It's quite a leap, from campaigning about torture to campaigning about a drug like morphine, isn't it?" asked Simon.