Sunday, March 28, 2010

make drug demand reduction a priority

Saturday, March 27, 2010

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Head of the only established Non-Governmental Organisation in St Vincent and the Grenadines, on substance abuse, Deborah Dalrymple has made an impassioned plea for Caribbean governments to pay more attention to reducing the demand for drugs among Caribbean youth.

Dalrymple, who is Director of Marion House, an NGO which provides counselling, treatment and prevention education to addicts in St Vincent and the Grenadines, was delivering the feature address at the launch of the four-day workshop organised by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat to assist three Member States (Bahamas, Belize and St Vincent and the Grenadines) to develop their national anti-drug strategy and plan of action This training intervention opened on Tuesday at the Grenadines House in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Dalrymple noted that for decades major investments had been made in addressing the issues related to substance abuse but the efforts were seemingly futile, primarily because not much attention had been paid to the demand reduction side of the drug war.

Despite this plethora of action plans, laws and controls she lamented, not much had been done to distil those strategies and programmes to the community level where it was critical to mitigate the effects of substance abuse and to curtail demand for illicit drugs. "We are alarmed at the numbers of seeming drug addicts on our streets. We are alarmed at the number of young persons who are incarcerated or institutionalised, but is demand reduction yet considered a priority in the region?"

Dalrymple averred that in certain countries the government had abandoned their social responsibility towards treatment, and that funds were allocated more for interdiction, and other supply side activities, than for demand reduction, care and treatment. She also noted that within the Region, it was observed that NGOs, were seemingly carrying the burden of drug demand reduction and providing care to most of the population with addiction problems.

"Lest we forget, the plans and strategies; the data collection; the alternative cultivation projects; the eradication programmes; the changes in the judicial and legislative system, should impact the country at the individual, the family, the community level", she cautioned.

Drug trafficking and its attendant financial crimes continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing the region. In response to this, the Caribbean Community has now adopted a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach in addressing the problem, ensuring that collaborative efforts are geared towards both the demand for and the supply of illicit drugs. One of the most potent means of combating the problem, according to officials from the CARICOM Secretariat is to build the capacity of Member States to address their unique challenges in a more integrated and systematic way.

It is against this background that the workshop, the first in a series, is designed to build the institutional capacity and technical capability of Member States to address the problems caused by, and associated with the use and trafficking of illicit substances.