Promoting evidence-based prevention and patient-friendly treatment for drug users

One of the consequences of being situated on a major drug trafficking route between Asia and Europe is the "spillover" of opiates into transit countries creating serious drug addiction problems. In an effort to equip regional health authorities with the expertise and opportunities necessary to counteract these problems, UNODC carries out a broad spectrum of initiatives, ranging from policy advice to assisting in the development of evidence-based interventions for treatment and care for drug dependent persons. Study tours and seminars bring together regional and international experts and helped disseminate international best practices. UNODC also works to educate communities about the effects and consequences of drug use.
Important ground also has been broken on promoting evidence-based prevention in the region. Public perception on the issue has begun to shift, a number of professionals in the region have been exposed to new ideas and have incorporated these ideas into their work, and some important school-related materials have either been developed or are under development.
UNODC recently launched the second phase of the Partnership for Action on Comprehensive Treatment - Treatnet II. Treatnet aims to assist countries dealing with the effects of drug use and its health consequences including HIV and AIDS through the promotion and support of evidence-based and ethical treatment policies, as well as interventions to reduce the health and social burden caused by drug use. Treatnet in Central Asia is part of a global programme to advocate and promote a sound understanding of drug dependence; to counteract stigma and discrimination; to build capacity among trainers and service providers; and to support the development and strengthening of drug dependence treatment services.

SUCCESS STORY: UNODC's regional project on diversifying HIV prevention and drug treatment services for injecting and other drug users was one of the first projects to improve the understanding among policy makers and practitioners of comprehensive drug dependence treatment and harm reduction services for drug users. A subsequent project, Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS Prevention through mass media, NGOs and civil society, succeeded in mobilizing the efforts of governments, the media and civil society organizations to produce an expanded and concerted response to drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention and care. This was accomplished through promoting a mass media-driven prevention campaign, enhancing the capacity of NGOs to conduct community-based prevention activities, and contributing to the development of effective primary drug and HIV prevention at schools. With its prevention focus targeting non-users, the project was ground breaking for the region. It was instrumental in increasing the knowledge and skills of teachers, schoolchildren, parents and community leaders on issues of healthy lifestyles, drugs and HIV/AIDS.