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UNODC to conduct first ever nationwide survey on drug use in Myanmar

Jeremy Douglas United Nations UN UNODC Myanmar drug policy 

Naypyitaw (Myanmar), 16 February 2016
- UNODC is planning a nationwide survey on drug use in Myanmar which will be the first ever survey of its kind in the country. Myanmar is the second largest opium producer in the world and is also a large producer of mamphetamine.

Currently, no official data are available on the number of drug users in Myanmar, although the number of people (males only) estimated to be injecting drugs is approximately 83,000. Based on anecdotal reports, heroin and opium remain the primary drugs of use, followed by synthetic drugs, the use of which is perceived to be increasing. The lack of recent data with regard to new trends and consequences of drug use, in particular of methamphetamine, makes it challenging to target strategies and interventions to the individuals, groups and communities in need of support.

Troels Vester United Nations UN UNODC MyanmarThe lack of data on drug use patterns and its consequences remains a fundamental challenge to plan and implement evidence informed drug strategies. Policymaking and service provision will benefit from findings obtained from a systematic national survey of drug use and health.

The survey will be the first step in addressing these gaps. It will assist in providing a better understanding of the extent of drug use in the general population; and the socio-demographic characteristics of current drug users. It will also shed light on the age of onset of drug use, frequency and pattern of current drug use, risky drug use behaviors, as well as extent of poly drug use and drug dependence among drug users, and it will allow for understanding of patterns within different parts of the country.

Plans for the survey were discussed at the first meeting of the national steering committee, which was recently formed following consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The committee is co-chaired by UNODC and the Myanmar Police Force (MPF), and is composed of other key stakeholders from across the government and national NGOs.

Myanmar Police Colonel Zaw Lin Tun

The meeting was chaired by the Chief of Police, Police Major General Zaw Win, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, while UNODC Country Manager for Myanmar, Troels Vester and Police Colonel Zaw Lin Tun presented the plan and methodology. Representatives from related government agencies as well as from national non government organizations which are key players in drug response also participated actively in the meeting.

The National Steering Committee will be the key guiding body of the survey and it will ensure the political ownership as well as unhindered implementation of the survey delivering valuable findings and results as well as recommendations for future planning.