Step up efforts to end drug menace

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With the implementation of the National Drug Control Policy in February, 2018, aimed at addressing all aspects of the drug problem and focusing on the unique needs of the country, Myanmar has made a significant shift towards an evidence-based and more people- and health-centric approach.
According to the policy statement, about 48 per cent of prisoners in Myanmar are serving sentences for drug use and drug trafficking-related cases. Inmates serving time for drug-related offenses in some prisons, such as Myitkyina and Lashio prisons, accounted for 60 to 70 per cent of the total prisoners, putting a burden on finances and management of prisons.
The new policy considers drug use a health issue rather than a criminal one as putting drug users behind bars has socioeconomic implications for their families.
The 1993 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law considered drug use a crime and prescribed an eight-year sentence for it. But, the drug problem in Myanmar continued to worsen.
Following a spike in drug seizures from 2008 to 2018, a new drug control policy was adopted and a law amending the 1993 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law was enacted in February, 2018.
Along with the framing of the policy, a strategy for implementing it was also drafted. Under the strategy, the regional and state authorities are required to come up with projects, in line with the situation in their areas, and implement them.
During her meeting with local residents of Tamu on 23 January, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi expressed concern for the rise in drug use among the youth. Statistics indicate that drug users make up 75 per cent of the youth population in Kalay.
If we cannot eradicate the drug problem in our country, our efforts for the development of youth, their health and education, will be in vain.
The new drug policy’s approach is aimed at tackling challenges related to drugs to ensure safe, secure, and healthy communities. It does not encourage drug use. Drug users need to receive treatment and their families must cooperate and help them get treatment.
If we do not collaborate and successfully combat the drug problem today, Myanmar will face a severe and drastic situation in the coming decade.
The menace of drugs is slowly eroding our society, ruining the lives of our youth, and destroying the dignity and future of our country.
In this regard, we earnestly urge all stakeholders to join us in our efforts in the fight against drugs.

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