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UNODC calls for better data for Africa at World Drug Report regional launch 

Nairobi, 26 June 2020 - The number of people globally who use drugs and who suffer from drug use disorders continues to rise every year and this is devastating for communities, including in East Africa.

This was a message from the UNODC Regional Representative for Eastern Africa, Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, during the regional e-launch of UNODC’s World Drug Report 2020 today – on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.  

“The report shows Africa accounted for 19 per cent of all quantities of marijuana seized, and for 8 per cent of all hashish seized during the reporting period, with our youth becoming the top consumers. As for cocaine, while remaining modest by global standards, the quantities seized on this continent grew significantly and exceeded global growth,” Dr. de Andrés said.

“Seizures made in Africa represented 2% of the global heroin and morphine seizures in 2018, most originating from Afghanistan. 

“Such data is important, for example to inform prevention, care and other responses. Yet most of the research done on this front comes from other parts of the world, and the report provides little elements of response for this continent. That is why African countries need data that is sound and relevant for the context,” Dr. de Andrés added. 

In line with COVID-19 guidelines in Kenya, the regional launch took place online with key Member States, the African Union and donors attending. 

In her closing remarks, the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, affirmed that: "Making people understand that addiction is a disease that is chronic and relapsing in nature is key to leaving no one behind as we endeavour to deliver on Sustainable Goal 3". 

At the Resolution 42/112 of 7th December 1987, the General Assembly proposed that 26th June would become the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Since then, the world has commemorated the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking every year as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. 

This year, the theme for the international day – also known as World Drug Day – focused on ‘better knowledge for better care’.

The 2020 report also emphasises the importance of mitigating the spread of disinformation in the fight against drug trafficking.  

According to the report, misinformation has meant that people, policy makers and sometimes service providers work on the understanding that drug use disorders are not multi-faceted health issues, as agreed by Member States in the Outcome document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem. 

Often, drug use disorders can be misinterpreted as moral failures or purely criminal activity.

With the launch of the latest World Drug Report, UNODC hopes to cement and refine understanding of the world drug problem, establish better knowledge with the aim to foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security in the East African region.

“While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug markets is hard to predict, it could be far reaching. There is a likelihood that drug use may fall due to the COVID mitigation measures, but this will be short-lived. When availability drops, experience show us that shortages lead to overdoses when supply eventually returns,” Dr. de Andres explained.

This point is furthered when considering the positive impact, the dissemination of factual knowledge among medical practitioners, policy makers, communities and within families has on people who have drug-use-disorders. 


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