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Regional officials call for greater collaboration in tackling illicit drugs

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Wednesday,  April 29, 2009 –  Officials at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s Regional Workshop on the Development of National Anti-Drug Strategies and Plans have concurred that there is a need to combine both supply and demand approaches within any policy framework to fight illicit drugs and drug trafficking in the Caribbean Region.


On Tuesday morning at the official opening ceremony of the three-day workshop being held in Castries, Saint Lucia, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development, Dr Edward Greene, told participants, government officials and diplomats that the supply of and demand for illicit drugs were inextricably linked and if there were to be any meaningful, sustained results, “we must address this phenomenon as a whole and not as two disparate issues.” 


He pointed to the development of National Anti-Drug Strategy and Plan as one way of marrying the two and expressed pleasure that the CARICOM Secretariat was collaborating with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States (CICAD) to train key actors in drug supply control and drug demand reduction in developing, implementing and monitoring National Anti-Drug Strategies and Plans


“We are expecting that the participants will leave this week of training, with knowledge, skills and tools that will enable and guide them in effectively implementing and monitoring their own National anti- drug strategies and plan,” Dr Greene remarked, as he pledged the support of the CARICOM Secretariat in providing on request from Member States, follow-up in-country technical support for this initiative.


The Deputy Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Health Saint Lucia, Mrs Chreselda St Juste, who gave the feature address, asked facilitators to sensitize participants to the need to combine both supply and demand approaches within policy framework.


“For too long we have treated these components as parallel, distinct and distant, despite the fact that they both target a common enemy, aimed at achieving a common cause. It is time we stop working in isolation,” she asserted.


The Deputy Permanent Secretary also lamented that whether “we are so advised by funding agencies or not, we have expended more funds and resources to supply reduction without equating demand reduction approaches,” and called for the Region to refocus its public education mechanism on both demand and supply reduction in an effort to tackle what has now been considered a present threat to sustainable development of the Region.


In addition, the Organization of American States (OAS) Representative in Saint Lucia, Ms Anne Marie Blackman, in her remarks, underscored the need for evidence-based policies that were underpinned by solid analysis as one of the weapons against drug demand and supply and noted that the development of national anti-drug plans, strategies and policies should be done in coordination with all stakeholders including the range of institutions from the private and public sectors.


The workshop is organized by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States (CICAD/OAS and the Saint Lucia Substance Abuse Advisory Council Secretariat (SAACS).  It seeks to build capacity of Member States and empower them to develop and implement their national anti drug plans, which should ultimately redound to controlling the supply of, and reducing the demand for illicit drugs.


To this end therefore, the three-day workshop has targeted directors and chairpersons of National Drug Commissions or Councils, policymakers in related government ministries and specialized personnel dedicated to the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national drug policies. More than 70 participants are attending.

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