Drug demand reduction stakeholders meeting reviews roadmap

ISLAMABAD: The three-day Pakistan drug demand reduction stakeholders meeting concluded here on Friday amid discussion on current situation regarding drug use prevention and drug dependence treatment and care in Pakistan.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) hosted the meeting in collaboration with government of Pakistan and the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

As per details, the goal was to review current strategies and activities and to create a roadmap to support government of Pakistan in its efforts to develop effective drug prevention and treatment policies.

The key partners present at the meeting included provincial health and social welfare authorities, local civil society organizations, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Colombo Plan.

Opening the meeting, Senior Joint Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control, Toaha Hussain Bugti highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to a balanced strategy between demand and supply reduction and mentioning the key areas for consideration for future such as stronger provincial health department involvement in drug treatment.

He was followed in opening remarks by Jeffrey Robertson, Director, the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Programmes (INL), who emphasized importance of coordinated efforts towards security, health and well-being.

Representative UNODC Pakistan, Cesar Guedes mentioned the newly signed Country Programme 2016-2019 and need to enhance prevention and treatment efforts in line with the international evidence-based standards.

Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, Coordinator, Management of Substance Abuse (WHO, Geneva), drew attention to high-level agreement taken at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 2016 and momentum that has been created for international collaboration in field of drug prevention and treatment.

Director, Drug Advisory Programme of the Colombo Plan, Veronica Felipe described present challenges for demand reduction.

It was envisaged that all partners work together and share available tools and information in order to prepare the roadmap focusing on four priority areas.

These were training and capacity building on evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies, quality assurance mechanisms for drug use disorder treatment services, community-based treatment service provision in rural areas, and a new household survey on drug use in Pakistan.