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UNODC-WHO Win ICOS Award For Innovative Drug Policy

UNODC-WHO Win ICOS Award For Innovative Drug Policy 18 March 2009

UNODC-WHO Joint Programme on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care puts public health at the forefront of drug policy
VIENNA – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) today received the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) Award for Innovative Drug Policy, in recognition of the UNODC-WHO Joint Programme on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care.

“The Joint Programme represents a real breakthrough in approach to the world’s drug problem,” said Emmanuel Reinert, Executive Director of ICOS, who was in Vienna to present the award. “The Programme puts health at the forefront of the drug policy challenge, and this must be applauded.”

The Award was presented on the Occasion of the 52nd Session of the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), where UNODC and WHO unveiled their groundbreaking project.

The Joint Programme aims to promote and support provision of humane, effective and accessible treatment and care for more people suffering from drug use disorders.

“Nothing less than that would be expected for any other disease,” said Mr Francis Maertens, Director of the Division of Operations leading the Joint Programme for UNODC.

The Programme will aim to develop widespread availability of treatment and care to people with drug dependence and drug related diseases, particularly HIV and AIDS, helping them to reintegrate into society. It aims to increase coverage and quality of treatment and care services for drug use disorders primarily in low-and middle income countries.

Under the leadership of UNODC and WHO, the Joint Programme will include input from governments, health professionals, non-government organisations and funding agencies to increase availably and accessibility to drug treatment services.

“Both UNODC and WHO have mandates to address this issue,” said Dr Vladimir Poznyak, Coordinator from the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, who collected the award on behalf of WHO. “At the moment, less than 10% of the people who may benefit from drug dependence treatment have access to it. By mainstreaming treatment into health care systems, including primary health care, we hope to change this. What is needed now is concerted action involving not only governments, but also non-governmental organizations and funding agencies to increase the coverage of essential services for drug dependence treatment and care.”

The Aims of the Joint Programme:

1) Leads a global collaborative effort for improving coverage and quality of treatment and care services for drug use disorders in low-and middle income countries.

2) Promotes the development of comprehensive and integrated treatment systems that are able to deliver a continuum of care for drug users and link services at municipal and national levels.

3) Maps population needs, legislative frameworks and available services and programmes for drug dependence treatment and care.

4) Supports policy and legislation revision to achieve balance in drug policy and to support humane and effective drug prevention, treatment and care.

5) Develops low-cost outreach treatment and care services, and increases access in rural and remote areas.

6) Places prevention, treatment and care of drug use disorders into the mainstream health care system, linking with NGOs and ensuring a full coordination with the health care system, as part of an integrated continuum of care.

7) Provides alternative measures to imprisonment for dependent drug users where appropriate and, where this is not possible, provision of drug dependence treatment in prison settings.

8) Supports universities at the national level to promote research and training curricula on drug dependence treatment and care.

9) Provides and supports training programmes for professionals involved in the provision of treatment and care for drug users, including those whose professional primary focus is not in that area.

10) Develop international recommendations, guidelines and standards aiming at the knowledge transfer from research to practice and supports adaptation and implementation at country level.

11) Supports regional networks of quality service providers, working on drug dependence treatment, social support services and HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

UNODC and WHO receiving the award from ICOS' Emmanuel Reinert

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