Health Care and Drug Control Specialists of Central Asia Met to Discuss the Use of Controlled Drugs for Medical Purposes

" Increasing access to controlled drugs for medical and scientific purposes is an obligation under the International Drug Control Conventions, but more importantly is a responsibility to meet the health care needs of the patient, including the need for pain relief." - explained Ms. Elizabeth Mattfeld, Project Coordinator in the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Unit, UNODC HQ Vienna, a leading facilitator of the Regional Stakeholders Meeting on "Increasing Access to Controlled Medicines for medical and scientific purposes" for the experts from fiveĀ  Central Asian countries, Georgia and Azerbaijan conducted in Tashkent from 3-4 December 2018.

The three International Drug Control Conventions highlight the necessity for Member States to ensure access to controlled drugs for medical and scientific purposes. Over the past years, increased attention and priority has been placed on this area of work, with high level policy frameworks such as the Outcome Document from the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug problem and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development referring to increasing access to controlled drugs as part of SDG 3.8., SDG 3.b, and SDG 3.4., and the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, adopted at the high-level segment in 2009.

As an instrument towards achieving the objectives stated in the abovementioned documents, the Regional Stakeholders Meeting focused on increasing quality healthcare which includes relieving pain and suffering in patients allowing them to heal and become healthy.

The Meeting, organized by UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia within the framework of UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2015-2019, is a part of the UNODC, World Health Organization (WHO) and Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Joint Global Program on "Access to controlled drugs for medical purposes, while preventing diversion and abuse."

" The Regional Stakeholders Meeting is intended to serve as an introduction to engage key focal points in the initial phase of strategic planning to increase access to and availability of controlled medicines palliative care at the national level, while preventing diversion. The complexity of the issue demands strong leadership and engagement of multiple stakeholders to move forward in a strategic approach." - highlighted Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia in her welcoming speech.

Over 20 national specialists, representing healthcare and drug control agencies of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, took part in the meeting. As a result of discussions, the specialists identified the most critical aspects of increasing access and availability to controlled drugs locally, and expressed their commitment to work in this direction.

The event created a platform where participants were able to draft a unique strategic approach to meet the health needs of the populations in each unique country of the region, as it is related to the human right to receive healthcare, including access to pain medication when appropriate medically.

The "Access to controlled drugs for medical purposes, while preventing diversion and abuse" Joint Global Program is a partnership representing tripartite engagement of drug regulators, public health implementers and civil society - UNDOC-WHO-UICC. The Programme's overall objective is to provide a coordinating platform for a worldwide response to improving access to controlled drugs for medical purposes, while controlling for abuse and diversion, therefore increasing the number of patients globally receiving appropriate treatment for conditions requiring the use of such medication.

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