The Sixth World Health Assembly dealswith the Question of Heroin




Pages: 53 to 53
Creation Date: 1953/01/01

The Sixth World Health Assembly dealswith the Question of Heroin [1]

Since the beginning of its activity the World Health Organization has had to deal with the problem of the medical use of heroin, especially through the agency of its Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction. This committee discussed the question at its first two sessions (1949-1950), first asking for "further information... as to the reasons governing the continuing use of diacetylmorphine... and particularly with regard to its replacement by less dangerous drugs" (WHO Techn. Rep. Series No. 21). Thereafter and in accordance with a resolution of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization, the Director-General of that organization asked for the views of the governments and the medical profession "concerning the necessity for the use or the dispensability of diacetylmorphine and the reasons therefore" (C.L. 16. 1950).

At its third session (1952) the Expert Committee reiterated its opinion (see Bulletin,Vol. IV, No. 3).

A very large number of countries replied to the inquiry of the Director-General and the great majority of these replies were in favour of dispensability of diacetylmorphine.

The Sixth World Health Assembly discussed the medical use of heroin as item 6.5.3. of the agenda mainly in its Committee on Programme and Budget (see: A6/P and B/Min/7), and the delegate of the U.S.A. submitted a draft resolution recommending the abolition of the use of heroin, which was amended by the delegate of Pakistan and unanimously adopted by the Committee.

At its ninth plenary meeting on 23 May 1953, the World Health Assembly adopted the resolution as amended in the following form:

1. See Bulletin on Narcotics, Vol. V, No. 2,for historical and technical background of the heroin problem.


"The Sixth World Health Assembly,

"Having considered recommendations of the Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction regarding the use of diacetylmorphine and the action taken by the Director-General on these recommendations at the request of the Executive Board,

"Being convincedthat diacetylmorphine is not irreplaceable for medical practice,

"Being convinced that the abolition of legally produced diacetylmorphine by Member States would facilitate the struggle against its illicit use,

"1. Recommendsthat campaigns be undertaken with the assistance of appropriate bodies to convince doctors and governments that diacetyl-morphine is not irreplaceable for medical practice;

"2 . Recommendsthat Member States which have not already done so abolish the importation and production of the drug; and

"3 . Requeststhe Director-General to communicate this resolution to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for consideration and appropriate action at an early date."

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, therefore, notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations of this resolution.

The Secretary-General, transmitting this resolution to the Economic and Social Council, proposed, "subject to any directions which the Council may give in the matter, to include this subject on the provisional agenda of the ninth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, in accordance with rule 6 of the Rules of Procedure of the Functional Commissions"(E/2476, 3 July 1953).