Drug menace: Better knowledge for better care

27 June 2020 12:53 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The United Nations yesterday marked the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.   


Supported each year by individuals, communities, and various organisations all over the world, this global observance aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society, the UN says.   
According to the world body, recently the field of addressing the world drug problem has been plagued by misinformation of many kinds. So this year’s theme is “Better knowledge for better care”. It emphasises the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how in turn, better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.   


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) encouraged individuals, non-profit organisations, the private sector and member states to get involved in its social media campaign to mark this day and invited them to draw on the resources provided in the social media campaign package.   


The trade in drugs was already recognised as a global crisis requiring a global solution at the beginning of the 20th century with the first international conference on narcotic drugs. It was held in Shanghai in 1909.   


According to the UNODC, over the following decades, a multilateral system to control production, trafficking and abuse of drugs was developed. Three drug control conventions were adopted under the auspices of the UN. The UNODC says it helps member states in implementing a balanced, health-and evidence-based approach to the world drug crisis. It helps to address both supply and demand and is guided by human rights and the agreed international drug control framework. This approach involves treatment, support, and rehabilitation, ensuring access to controlled substances for medical purposes, working with farmers who previously cultivated illicit drug crops to develop alternative sustainable livelihoods for them and establishing adequate legal and institutional frameworks for drug control through using 
international conventions.   


In 2009, member states adopted the political declaration and plan of action on international cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug crisis. The plan includes goals and targets for drug control. Progress was assessed at a UN General Assembly special session in 2016. This resulted in more than 100 operational recommendations in seven thematic chapters. In March last year, member states adopted a ministerial declaration in which they reaffirmed their determination to address and counter the world drug problem and to actively promote a society free of drug abuse. This was intended to help ensure that all people can live in health, dignity and peace, with security and prosperity. The countries also reaffirm their determination to address public health, safety and social problems resulting from drug abuse.   


In a message UN Secretary-General António Guterres says, mutual support and trustworthy information have proven to be pillars of responding effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and saving lives. He says cooperation, reliable data and evidence-based action are just as vital to addressing the many challenges posed by the world drug crisis, protecting people’s security and realising the sustainable development goals. 

 
In Sri Lanka, several narcotics detections have been made in recent years and they involve hundreds of millions if not billions of rupees. Political leaders have even accused big drug mafias of trying to topple the government but reports also indicate that several politicians have connections with major drug dealers. To control drug smuggling and trafficking the main body is the Police Narcotics Bureau. In the latest development, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is reported to be probing charges that some PNB officers themselves sold about 100 kilos of heroin which they had seized. They are alleged to have sold it to a drug dealer operating in Dubai and it had a street value of about Rs.1,000 million. Recently the Attorney General took the unprecedented step of severely criticising the Prisons Department for its failure to curb large drug-trafficking operations being conducted by king-pins operating from prison cells and using smart phones. The most shocking reports have been about operators who are peddling narcotic substances to children outside their school. These are sold in the form of toffees and they ruin the lives of the children. Such unscrupulous racketeers, as one spiritual leader has said, should be thrown into the deepest ocean with millstones tied around their necks.   

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