Jakarta. United Nations secretary general António Guterres urged the international community on Monday (26/06) to adopt an approach based on prevention and treatment to address drug abuse and drug trafficking.
In a statement coinciding with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on June 26 every year, Guterres cited his experience as prime minister of Portugal and said allocating more resources to prevention, treatment and social reintegration programs contributed to a reduction in drug-related deaths and overall drug use rates in the country.
"I know from personal experience how an approach based on prevention and treatment can yield positive results [...] [I] hope this experience will contribute to the discussion and encourage member states to continue exploring comprehensive and evidence-based solutions," Guterres said in the statement.
The UN General Assembly decided in 1987 to observe this day as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to create an international society free of drug abuse.
A report released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) last Thursday revealed that a quarter of a billion people used drugs in 2015.
Three decades after the UN's declaration to address drug abuse, 29.5 million people are engaged in problematic use and suffer from drug-related disorders.
The 2017 World Drug Report also said the spectrum of substances available on the drug market has considerably expanded, with the number of new psychoactive substances having nearly doubled to 483 in 2015 from 260 in 2012.
Furthermore, the report highlights that access and availability to scientific, evidence-based intervention for treatment of drug use disorders is still limited in many countries. UNODC recommends integration within existing health-care systems in countries, to ensure the implementation of effective interventions and preventive measures.
The international community set a milestone in April 2016 when it declared a commitment and plan of action to counter the global drug problem – to be achieved by 2019. Despite the progress, the 2017 report reveals the extent to which recent trends pose new challenges to the eradication of the problem of drug use and trade.
UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov acknowledged that much more needs to be done to combat drug-related issues.
"There is much work to be done to confront the many harms inflicted by drugs to health, development, peace and security in all regions of the world," he said in the statement.
The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking adopts a theme to mark the event every year. This year's theme builds on a campaign established last year, called "Listen First."
The initiative focuses on increasing support for preventive measures based on science, with the idea that an effective investment relies on firstly listening to children and the youth as part of an effort to ensure their present and future wellbeing, which translates into the wellbeing of families and communities.
Spearheaded by the French and Swedish governments, along with the World Health Organization and UNODC, the campaign targets parents, teachers, policy makers and health and prevention workers by highlighting the skills needed to recognize and prevent risky behavior and drug use.
"Despite the risks and challenges inherent in tackling this global problem, I hope and believe we are on the right path, and that together we can implement a coordinated, balanced and comprehensive approach that leads to sustainable solutions," Guterres said.