Substance abuse victims: New health policy may cover treating drug addicts: Kiyani

Health minister says govt will form committee


Our Correspondent October 02, 2018
A drug addict sits in a drug rehabilitation centre which provides treatment to drug addicts. Addicts gather in abandoned buildings and then 'shoot-up'. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Health Aamer Mehmood Kiyani said that he would be happy to work with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for the treatment of substance abuse victims.

“Drug dependence treatment is a very important issue which needs to work under the health policy,” he said talking to UNODC Representative Cesar Guedes. “We will constitute a committee to give proposals on the issue and will like to see inputs from UNODC on drug dependence treatment,” he told Guedes who had called on him along with his team and UNODC Goodwill Ambassador Shehzad Roy.

Guedes told the minister that UNODC country office is working with the government of Pakistan, civil society stakeholders and partners to help address Pakistan's challenges in relation to drug and crime issues.

UNODC’s work includes research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drug-related issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions. UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Narcotics Control carried out the National Drug Use Survey in 2013. According to this survey 6.7 million people had used one or more illicit substances in a year and out of these, 4.25 million were considered to be dependent on drugs requiring structured treatment for their drug use disorder.

A significant proportion of drug dependents also have a range of drug associated physical and mental health problems which needs to be assessed and treated in a holistic manner.

The outcome document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem also recognises drug dependence as a complex, multi factorial health disorder, and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 which is health related goal, in its target 3.5: talks about “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.”

Shehzad Roy said: “It is time we should bring some changes in the health policy.”

UNODC Representative briefed the federal minister on the drug situation in the country and discussed that drug addiction as a health issue as it was also reaffirmed in United Nation General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on world drugs problem in April 2016 that countries should deal it as a health issue.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2018.

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