UNODC launched Drug Prevention Campaign in the Sindh Province

18 August 2015 - Karachi - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control and supported by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)- Pakistan of the US Department of State, is implementing a drug prevention campaign in nine cities located in the Province of Sindh. These cities are: Hyderabad, Larkana, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Badin,  Mirpur Khas,  Nawabshah, Jacobabad, and Khairpur.

The overall aim of this five-month long campaign is to raise public awareness on drugs and their harmful effects on individuals, families and society at large with a special focus on youth in the educational institutions, teachers, parents and religious leaders. 

The campaign is based on the results of the "Drug use in Pakistan 2013 Survey". According to the survey, it is estimated that six per cent of the population in Pakistan, or 6.7 million people, aged between 15 and 64 had used drugs in the year the survey was conducted. Of these, 4.25 million people are thought to be suffering from drug use disorders and drug dependence, reporting significant challenges controlling or reducing their use and experiencing negative personal consequences as a result of their drug use. 

The Province of Sindh had the second highest prevalence rate for cannabis use in the country. 4.3 per cent of the population uses cannabis, and an estimated 570,000 people in Sindh used opioids during previous years. Of these, 66 per cent used prescription opioids (painkillers) and 34 per cent used heroin, opium or both. Almost 100,000 drug users in Sindh are estimated to be injecting drugs, primarily opiates. Prevalence estimates for the use of tranquilisers and sedatives in Sindh are comparable with that of Punjab while the use of amphetamine-type stimulants is not as high as in other provinces.

This campaign is being implemented in close cooperation with the Narcotics Control Division, Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control, and Government of Sindh by making use of electronic and print media; installing billboards with drug prevention messages in local languages at strategic locations in the target cities; broadcasting drug prevention messages and talk shows on FM radio and local TV stations; organising drug prevention education sessions with school children, teachers and religious scholars, and establishing a helpline to offer access to drug information and facilitate drug treatment services.   

Mr. Ghalib Bandesha, Secretary of the Narcotics Control Division, Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control, said in his speech "Preventing drug use before it begins is the most cost-effective, common-sense approach to promoting safe and healthy communities. Young people deserve every opportunity to live up to their full potential; therefore, exposure to effective drug prevention messages helps their chances". 

Talking to the media Mr. Cesar Guedes, UNODC Representative, stated "The widespread availability of drugs in Pakistan is making it easy for people especially youth to experiment and become dependent on drugs. The social and economic impacts of drug use on families, society and the country are enormous, which further increases the burden on health services related to drug treatment and the treatment of drug-associated diseases such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV. There is a need for continuous contribution by the key players to spread the message on drug prevention, contribute to increasing knowledge and create a positive change in the general attitudes and behaviours of the community." Thanking the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US Department of State for supporting the drug awareness campaign in Sindh province, he wished the provincial Government the very best in successful implementation of the campaign and for the betterment of the future of the country.  

While giving concluding remarks, H.E. Dr. Ishrat ul Ebad, Governor of Sindh said "Today's launch of the drug awareness campaign in Sindh should be the first step in the direction of an ongoing intervention in drug prevention awareness and associated social, psychological, economical and physical harms". He also ensured the Government of Sindh's full support to UNODC, INL Pakistan and NCD, Ministry of Narcotics Control in the implementation of the campaign as an effective model to be replicated in other parts of the country.

This initiative is made possible with the financial support from the Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)- Pakistan of the US Department of State.


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