Medical care, rehabilitation for drug users, not jail

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  • The narcotic drug problem has been taken on by successive governments, but they have been unable to control it. Instead, it is becoming worse.
    The problem of narcotic drug abuse is considered a national epidemic, and attempts have been made to control and eradicate it, but year by year the number of arrests for possession and distribution keep on rising.
    According to the World Drug Report 2017, about a quarter of a billion people used drugs in 2015. Of these, around 29.5 million people – or 0.6 per cent of the global adult population – were engaged in problematic use and suffered from drug use disorders, including dependence. Opioids were the most harmful drug type and accounted for 70 per cent of the negative health impact associated with drug use disorders worldwide, according to the latest World Drug Report, released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
    Hepatitis C is causing the greatest harm among the estimated 12 million people who inject drugs worldwide. Out of this number, one in eight (1.6 million) are living with HIV and more than half (6.1 million) are living with Hepatitis C, while around 1.3 million are suffering from both hepatitis C and HIV. Overall, three times more people who use drugs die from Hepatitis C (222,000) than from HIV (60,000).
    It is time to try and solve this serious problem in a different manner.
    In 2017, drug prevention and control operations in Mayyu, Rakhine State, Shan Yoma in Shan State and Chindwin-2 in Sagaing Region were conducted. The Ayeya Oo operation in Kachin State is currently underway. As eradicating narcotic drugs cannot be done solely through preventive operations and judicial strategies alone but must include economics, social, health and development sectors, a new narcotic drug control policy has been drawn up.
    A new National Strategic Plan will be drawn up over the next six months for the successful implementation of this policy.
    An Operation Action Plan will be relevant to the states and regions and in accordance with the Strategic Plan, which targets reduction of the cultivation of opium.
    The period for implementing the Strategic Plan is set for two years, and region and state governments should be prepared for implementing the plan in their respective areas.
    Significantly, when the bill amending the Anti-Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Law is enacted, drug users will no longer receive prison sentences. Hence, departments concerned are urged to prepare for boosting their medical care and rehabilitation efforts for the drug users.
    While the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control is trying to eradicate narcotic drugs, relevant ministries are also urged to increase the preventive works against narcotics as a very important national duty.
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