25 February 2005

“Supply of Essential Drugs Critical in Post-Disaster Situations” Says INCB

VIENNA, 25 February (UN Information Service) -- In his annual meeting with Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Professor Hamid Ghodse, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) emphasized the importance of providing essential drugs in the wake of natural disasters. “In the aftermath of disasters like the recent tsunami, it is essential that drugs are available to treat the injured,” said Mr. Ghodse. He added that INCB had expeditiously granted requests from Member States for additional supplies of essential narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, in order to prevent shortages in medical supplies.

Mr. Ghodse also informed the Secretary-General of INCB’s work in assisting countries affected by the December 2004 tsunami. He urged those governments to use the model guidelines for the international provision of controlled medicines for emergency medical care, which were jointly developed by the World Health Organization and INCB.

The importance of drug control in post-conflict situations was also discussed. “Afghanistan, the world’s number one producer of opium, is the most obvious example of how drugs play a role in post-conflict situations,” said Mr. Ghodse. Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has been rising steadily since the fall of the Taliban. Last year, opium production reached 4,200 tons. Moreover, given the almost total collapse of social and physical infrastructure after two decades of war and conflict, there are limited treatment facilities and no trained staff to deal with drug abuse problems.

The problem is acute in Africa. About one-third of the African population is still affected by armed conflict and post-conflict situations, and drug trafficking, drug abuse and related problems have the potential to imperil development and human security. Drug abuse, particularly among child soldiers, continues in countries that are emerging from conflict and civil strife. “Ways must be found to address drug abuse in this group,” Mr. Ghodse said.

The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board is a quasi-judicial body that monitors the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. It was established in 1968 in accordance with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. INCB is independent of governments, as well as of the United Nations. Its 13 members are elected by the Economic and Social Council and serve in their personal capacity, not as government representatives.

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