(26 June 2020)
The General Assembly has decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. It has been 33 years the world countries have been observing this occasion annually.
In previous years, the central-level International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was held at MICC-2 in Nay Pyi Taw, while such ceremonies at Nay Pyi Taw Council Area, region and state levels were organized under the management of respective administrations; seized illegal drugs were also burnt at major cities such as Yangon, Mandalay and Taunggyi. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, ceremonies were not observed at the central level, regions and states this year, however, the seized illegal drugs were burnt in Yangon, Mandalay and Taunggyi and precursor chemicals and related materials were destroyed in Kutkai Township.
To lessen drug abuse, school children are being educated directly or indirectly; awareness teams for illegal drugs are formed at schools; educative talks and awareness campaigns with the distribution of information, education and communication materials; school curriculum, organizing educative shows and festivals and conducting capacity-building courses for teachers. The government is eradicating narcotic drugs with controls over production and abuses. The control of production includes prevention and management, substituted development programmes, livestock, cultivation of substituted crops and control of precursor chemicals.
The control of abuses includes medical treatments, rehabilitation, educative programmes for school children, public awareness, international cooperation and social services.
The CCDAC has formed local level committees in Nay Pyi Taw Council, regions, states, districts, townships, wards and villages, with the participation of authorities, INGO, civil society organizations, religious organizations and businesspersons to conduct anti-narcotic tasks.
Moreover, the Special Anti-Drug Reporting Centre was set up by the order of the President on 22 June 2018 to support in fighting against illegal drugs. Out of reporting cases from 26 June 2018 to 20 June 2020, lawsuits were filed against 1,196 cases, with legal actions against 1,543 males, 303 females, totalling 1,846 persons.
Under the leading role of the government, Tatmadaw, Myanmar Police Force and anti-narcotics task forces conducted special operations. As a result, a large volume of chemicals and related materials used in narcotic drug productions were confiscated. It is required to address the illegal drug problem in multi-sectoral approaches and means simultaneously and harmoniously. The new version of National Drug Control Policy was developed on the basis of recommendations from the 2016 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), and the law to amend 1993 Illegal Drugs and Psychotropic Law was released in 2018. The National Strategic Plan to implement the policy has been approved and two-year action plan which is appropriate with local contexts are being carried out.
Effective measures will be needed for stronger legislative system in fighting against narcotic drugs, elimination of criminal networks which can lead to distress and social sufferings, better healthcare and human rights responses.
Non-controlled substances can cause a lot of unimaginable sufferings in medical treatments. Suitable painkillers should be ready for all persons. All the possible measures must be taken to understand the use of medicines for social and health issues such as drug-related HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, continuous healthcare for drug addicts.
The UNGASS decided to widely respond to the related issues with illegal trafficking and abuse of narcotic drugs in various ways. Governments need to follow a new effective and humane way to manage the drug problem.
It should be honoured to common people for their broader participation in the reduction of risks caused by drug abuses, trafficking and abuse of drugs for ensuring more peaceful and safe lives and promoting human rights and equality.
Moreover, it is expected that the economy would decline due to the long-term COVID-19 pandemic. In taking advantages of this crisis, trafficking trend and market situations of illegal drugs are likely to change, and authorities in drug control measures need to take serious steps in their works.
The theme for the 2020 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking “Better Knowledge for Better Care” emphasizes the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem. Despite some risks and challenges in tackling narcotic drug issues, it is believed we all together are on the right path in implementing a perfect, harmonious and interrelated approach that can lead to long-lasting means. (Translated by Aung Khin)