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giovedì, Maggio 30, 2024

In Bangkok UNODC and UNAIDS discuss health and HIV prevention for synthetic drug users

BANGKOK, 29 NOVEMBRE – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UNAIDS organized a regional policy forum and seminar on synthetic drug use and harm reduction services: senior drug policy and health practitioners from Southeast Asia gathered in Bangkok to participate.

It is estimated that 60 per cent of the more than 35 million people who use synthetic drugs – particularly the stimulant methamphetamine – worldwide are living in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, there has been a dramatic change in the East and South-East Asia drug market, with traditional opiates including heroin in decline, and synthetic drugs including methamphetamine and ketamine sharply increasing.
Alarmingly, the most recent UN Transnational Organised Crime Threat Assessment for the region has found that the value of the illicit methamphetamine market has expanded by four times in the last six years and is now estimated to be worth up to US$ 61.4 billion annually. The scale of the problem has resulted in increasing calls for a new approach to drug policy with a focus on addressing the health and social consequences of synthetic drug use.

UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, opened the forum remarking that the synthetic drug market in the region has expanded for years in-part because demand, health and social harms have received so little policy focus and investment: “The approach of addressing the problem almost exclusively by trying to reduce supply through seizures has not worked, but at least policy makers in the region are now reflecting on what this means and are discussing and debating different approaches, and some governments are considering strategies that include emphasis on preventive measures – the kind of governance changes necessary are not going to be easily or quickly implemented, but we will support the region with advice and assistance.”
Earlier this year UNODC, UNAIDS and WHO launched a Technical Guide on HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support for People Who Use Stimulant Drugs with an accompanying training package for countries to use. Monica Ciupagea, UNODC Drug Use and HIV Expert, was involved and commented: “The seminar this week will provide guidance to help establish and expand access to prevention, treatment, care and support services which are lacking for people who use synthetic stimulant drugs.” She added, “They are rarely injected like heroin, but users are still at risk of exposure to HIV and other diseases from different high risk behaviours.”droga
The package to address the risks associated with stimulant drug use includes promotion of harm reduction efforts to prevent HIV and other related communicable diseases. For example, people smoking crystal methamphetamine often share pipes and would benefit from having personal smoking equipment, as well as messaging that sharing pipes significantly increases the risk of transmitting Hepatitis C or tuberculosis.

 

Maria Novella Topi
Maria Novella Topihttps://onuitalia.com
Maria Novella Topi è stata a lungo capo servizio della Redazione Esteri dell'Ansa. Tra le sue missioni l'Albania (di cui ha seguito per l'agenzia la caduta del comunismo e le successive rivolte), l'Iraq e la Libia. Ha lavorato per lunghi periodi nell'ufficio di corrispondenza di Parigi. Collabora da Roma a OnuItalia.

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