Central Asia Supports #Health4Justice, #Justice4Health

"The person who uses drugs or smokes cigarettes would get into darks side of the life. That person would lose his connection with friends, family and people." - expressed their concern the 5-grade pupils of school #300 of Tashkent city, Uzbekistan, during the drawing competition organized by UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia and the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Indeed, overdose and other reasons caused by the substance use, especially drug use kill people. Thus, according to the 2019 World Drug Report (the WDR), 585,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2017.

The WDR highlights that "vulnerability to initiating and developing substance use disorders is contingent on a number of protective and risk factors related to an individual and aspects of their environment - parents, family, school and peers - as well as the influence of the physical and socioeconomic environment, …and positive engagement of young people and their families, schools and communities."

This year, to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, UNODC in Central Asia aimed to unite young people and their families, schools and communities to create a strong power to prevent and to raise awareness on drug use. All the activities conducted by UNODC in the region were actively supported by the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and targeted young generation of Central Asia in helping them resist and overcome life's difficulties using such useful hobbies as exercising sport, music, painting, and many other useful activities that can give them important life skills, and  help in forming and achieving of their goals and healthy choices.

UNODC in the Kyrgyz Republic ran information campaign "Health for Justice. Justice for Health" from 30 May until 28 June in partnership with the Anti-Drug Trafficking Service (CNS) of the Ministry of Interior of the Kyrgyz Republic (MoI KR), the State Agency on Youth Affairs, Physical Culture and Sports under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Football Federation of the Kyrgyz Republic with the financial support of the Government of Japan. Campaign consisted of series of events: mini-football competitions in four cities of Kyrgyzstan: Osh, Naryn, Cholpon-Ata and Bishkek; culinary battle, lectures for healthy life style, yoga sessions and morning exercise at the Hyatt Regency Bishkek, EcoMade, Worldclass sport club, lectures of psychiatrists on the reasons of bad habits occurrence and what to do to overcome them, production of motivational public service announcement (PSA) for TV and Radio.

In Uzbekistan, the observance started off on 20 June in Tashkent city. Children from ten schools of capital city spent their day with drawing on paper and asphalt to express their views and opinions on negative consequences of substance use. This day of their school-based summer camping was different from others, as they were drawing their posters to contribute to the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which is observed globally. These 50 children were a part of the nation-wide information competition which turned to into information campaign and took place in all regions of Uzbekistan. The activity echoed the statement expressed in the WDR, saying "In addition to evidence-based prevention strategies that start at an early age, there is a need to improve understanding, especially among young people, of the negative health consequences, both of early initiation and the long-term heavy and frequent non-medical use of narcotic substances." Also, UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia visited the awarding ceremony of another national competition conducted by the Ministry of Public Education jointly with UNODC and other international partners to thank 28 winners for their dedicated work and passion to build the world without drugs. Furthermore, UNODC jointly with the UNICEF Uzbekistan conducted a survey on alcohol and substance use among youth via U-Report platform. Over 4000 young girls and boys participated in the survey. Remarkably, survey revealed that about 19% of respondents do not know whether there are risks to their health when using drugs 1-2 times during life, whereas 1% of women and 4% of men respondents reported that they have tried drugs 1-2 times.

Raising awareness of young girls and boys is one of the crucial tools that Central Asian states apply to prevent drug use and its consequences. In Turkmenistan, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior jointly with the civil society, international community, and UNODC in particular, organized a festival encouraging the young people to enlighten each other on risks and consequences of drug abuse, crime and violence. The festival included concert, quiz sessions, flash-mobs, drawing competition and lots of prizes for girls and boys. The event gathered over 550 participants including youth, representatives of government organizations, law enforcement agencies, media, international and civil society organizations.

In Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, UNODC demonstrated a PSA dedicated to the World Drug day and the theme of this year - Health for Justice. Justice for Health. The video clip appeared at the street LCD billboard on one of the main streets of the capital city, every 15 minutes during 3 hours in the evening time.

In 2017, an estimated 271 million people, or 5,5 per cent of the global population aged 15-64, had reported about drug use in the previous year, informs 2019 the WDR. While this is not much different compared to the 2016 estimate, a longer-term view reveals that the number of people who use drugs is now 30 per cent higher than it was in 2009. This and other issues were discussed at the official meetings with the key national partners of UNODC across Central Asia.

Some 50 representatives of the state authorities, international organizations, civil society and mass media took part in the State Coordination Committee on Drug Control, Psychotropic Substances and Precursors Meeting (SCC) organized by the Counter Narcotics Service (CNS) of the Interior Ministry of the Kyrgyz Republic under the support of the UNODC Programme Office in the Kyrgyz Republic.

UNODC Programme office in the Republic of Tajikistan in collaboration with the National Center for Monitoring and Prevention of Drug Addiction of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Republic of Tajikistan organized a round table entitled " Methods of prevention and registration of drug dependency and virus deceases connected with drugs (HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis B and C) and illegal use of drugs".

On 26 June, over 50 representatives of government organizations, law enforcement agencies, media, civil society organizations joined together to make presentations on drug abuse, crime and violence prevention and healthy lifestyle in Mary, Turkmenistan, at the conference hall of the regional office of the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan.

UNODC conducted roundtable on "Integration of the questions of justice and health into approaches to drug prevention and treatment needs" with participation of representatives of health and justice system in Uzbekistan. Along with rationale for treatment as an alternative to conviction or punishment, the participant also exchanged opinions on how to improve the collaboration between justice and health systems in the country. Thus, key stakeholders - government agencies, international organizations and civil society, and mass media around Central Asia participated in discussions on drug abuse and trafficking related issues.

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