May 28, 2015
Countering Drug Abuse: National and Foreign Experience
Tashkent has hosted an international conference titled “Countering the Proliferation of Drugs and Preventive Measures: National and International Experience.”

At the event organized by the National Information-Analytical Center on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan jointly with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the participants discussed the implementation of measures to prevent drug abuse, promote healthy lifestyles, involve civil society institutions and strengthen social partnership and international cooperation in this area.

As noted at the event, the problem of drug abuse and illicit trafficking poses a serious worldwide threat, and becomes transnational against the backdrop of ongoing globalization.

Uzbekistan is also affected by the problem, taking into account its geographical and strategic position at the crossroads between South Asia and Europe, making the territory of the country favorable for using it as the “transit corridor” for drug trafficking.

Uzbekistan has formed an effective system to counteract the drug addiction, which includes organizational, legal and special operational activities, international cooperation, and medical and social activities, such as an extensive preventive work and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. In other words, Uzbekistan combats the expansion of drug abuse in all areas.

The State Commission on Drug Control was set up in 1994. It is an inter-departmental body responsible for developing and ensuring the implementation of state policy on drug control. The National Information-Analytical Centre on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan was formed as the standing back-office of the commission. Regional Commissions on Drug Control are responsible for coordination of the efforts to combat the drug menace at the local level.

The law “On Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances” adopted in 1999, developed a legal mechanism for drug control in the country. The State Commission on Drug Control has developed long-term programs to counter drug abuse and illicit trafficking; the latest program is designed for 2011-2015.

Working on drug prevention and drug-related crime is crucial here. Uzbekistan has an effective system of drug dependency treatment. Some of the regions feature the new buildings of drug rehabilitation clinics with new rehabilitation units. The clinics are equipped with a laboratory, diagnostic and medical facilities. Uzbekistan works on training competent personnel for drug treatment services. The addiction clinics now have the positions of psychotherapists, medical psychologists and social workers in line with new programs of medical and social rehabilitation that use the modern methods of drug prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of patients.

The integrated and comprehensive system of combating drug abuse features not only law enforcement agencies and medical institutions, but also social agencies, youth associations and self-government bodies.

The effective interaction between different agencies and organizations is based on the national legislation, which, along with the Law “On Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances” also features laws «On Crime Prevention”, “On the prevention of child neglect and juvenile delinquency”, “On limiting distribution and consumption of alcohol and tobacco products” and some other acts. The solid legal foundation helps to design and implement a number of measures in the areas of awareness raising, treatment and rehabilitation and law enforcement to prevent drug addiction and drug-related crime.

The adoption of the Law «On social partnership» in 2014 outline mechanisms of interaction between the state bodies and public organizations. It became an important factor to enhance the participation of civil society in raising the legal awareness and legal culture, spiritual and moral education of youth, including in the area of prevention of drug abuse.

The “Kamolot” Public Youth Movement works specifically to promote healthy lifestyles and the negative attitudes towards drug use among young people. The projects and events carried out by “Kamolot” targeted at this area create great engagement among the young people.

Self-government bodies are also playing an important role in drug prevention. Currently Uzbekistan has about 9,800 registered self-government bodies. They feature the public Commission for the spiritual and educational issues, commissions for women and minors, commissions for sport and others. Their work is effective thanks to the interaction with health and law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations, and members of local councils. Self-government bodies also promote drug prevention by providing employment, developing private entrepreneurship and family businesses.

The system to promote children\'s sports is also important here. In recent years, more than 1,200 children\'s sports facilities have been built in Uzbekistan, 84% of them in rural areas.

Media is also working to raise the awareness about the consequences of drug use and to promote healthy lifestyles, with many media campaigns organized with the help of state bodies and public organizations Another important area is enhancing relations with foreign states and international organizations. Uzbekistan has signed more than 30 agreements and memoranda of understanding in this field on a bilateral and on a multilateral basis.

In the framework of international cooperation, the border-customs posts of our country are equipped with modern stationary and mobile scanning units, and other equipment to prevent smuggling of goods carried, including drugs, while the national experts are constantly improving their skills in training events organized in the country and in foreign countries. As a result of this complex work, a stabilization of the drug situation was achieved in the republic. For example, over the past decade, more than 193 thousand cases were revealed. More than 66.8 tons of narcotics and other drugs were seized from illegal turnover.

Recently, a reduction was marked in the number of drug addicts who are on drug treatment at medical institutions, there is no significant inflow of new cases of drug addiction among young people, while the number of new cases of HIV infection among drug users has greatly reduced. The number of drug addicts, that are on probation in the rehabs for the period of 2001-2014, has decreased from 18,087 to 14,692 and the incidence of drug abuse has decreased from 25.3 to 3.8 per 100,000 of population. The proportion of injection drug users among the registered HIV cases has decreased from 73% to 7.2%.

In the framework of the conference, the national experience on combating drug trafficking, involvement of civil society institutions to conduct purposeful work to promote a healthy lifestyle, formation of negative attitude of the population of the republic to drug use were reviewed. The German experience in the development of drug rehab systems for the population, the introduction and use of modern technologies for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, a coordinated educational treatment and rehabilitation and other law enforcement activities, as well as enhanced international cooperation were also on the agenda of the conference.

In order to develop bilateral cooperation in combating drug trafficking, the development and implementation of joint measures to prevent drug addiction, a cooperation agreement was signed between the NIACDC and the representatives of the Konrad Adenauer foundation. It will establish cooperation in holding conferences, seminars, and ‘round tables’ in the field of combating drug trafficking, as well as in the study and dissemination of international and national experience on the issues of fighting drug trafficking and demand reduction.

“I am very glad to have had the opportunity to participate at such a serious conference, which hosted very important issues,” said international expert, member of the German Bundestag Christian Fornek. “Uzbekistan is a buffer zone to prevent the flow of drugs from Afghanistan, it is in the center of the struggle against this evil, and does much to counteract their prolifiration. At the forum I heard some interesting reports showing that your country pays great attention to the fight against drug addiction. I, in particular, was very interested in the activities of citizens\' assemblies of your country aimed at the prevention of drug use among young people, it\'s just a unique experience.”

“In combating drugs, the activity of the media is very important,” said Professor Peter Shivi (Germany). “During my first visit to Uzbekistan in 2010, I was able to virtually explore the activities of your non-state TV channels. At this forum, I\'ve learnt a lot about the work of the mass media of the republic to promote healthy lifestyles, the dangers of drug use that is extremely important and relevant.”

“In the struggle against this evil, the European countries have great achievements, but have also made a lot of mistakes,” said regional head of the K. Adenauer Foundation in Central Asia Mr. Thomas Kunze. “It is important that Uzbekistan does not repeat them. Your country has a positive experience in this area, which is interesting for Germany and other European countries. In this respect, the conference has fulfilled its task.”

Social youth movement “’Kamolot’ systematically carries out preventive and outreach activities such as ‘Drug addiction ruins lives’, ‘We stand for a healthy lifestyle’, ‘The negative effects of alcohol and smoking’ and others designed to improve the legal and medical state of culture of the younger generation, to instill the advantages of a healthy lifestyle,” said Zohirshoh Juraev, chief specialist of the Department of Health and Environment of the Central Board of the Kamolot Youth Movement. “Last year, our activists organized special educational mini-sessions that covered students in all regions. Since the beginning of 2015, as part of a month to combat drug abuse, these sessions were attended by 20 thousand people, both boys and girls. As part of an educational tour at the Kamolot camp in the Bostanlyk district of Tashkent region, 100 trainers were trained and briefed, who then will carry out educational talks throughout the year in the communities and at educational institutions.” “Our organization brings together people living with HIV. We help them to adapt to the diagnosis, initiate treatment, maintain quality of life, and arrange counseling,” says chairperson of the NGO ‘Ishonch va Hayot’, Victoria Ashirova. “In addition, we are working on HIV prevention and drug abuse, healthy lifestyle among the younger generation. We attract young consultants and socially active youth to help other people overcome drug addiction, so that they can tell you on a personal example of young men and women about the dangers of drugs. There\'s also a fruitful cooperation in these areas with the Ministry of Health and other medical institutions.”

“For me, it was a great honor to take part in the conference, where you can exchange experiences in the field of combating drug trafficking,” says speaker of the Saxon parliament Matthias Roessler. “This is a global problem, which affects mostly young people. I deeply admire the way Uzbekistan opposed this threat. A whole system has been lined up. Our countries have a similar approach to this issue. In Germany, law enforcement specialists, schools, health and social workers and NGOs are also involved in this fight.”

“The main combination that yields positive results in the fight against the drug threat is a combination of law enforcement and prevention and an integrated approach. Preventive measures can be successfully implemented within educational institutions, public organizations, and family institutions,” said head of the regional Office on Drugs and Crime of the United Nations in Central Asia Allium Mittal. “Uzbekistan in this sense has done a great job. Here there is the practice of discussions with the population in the communities. For many years, our office cooperates in this field with law enforcement agencies of the republic, ministries, NIACDC and community organizations.”

(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)


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