Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (UNODC)

6th Consultative Meeting of the Regional Network of Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) Coordination Centres of West and Central Asia

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed increasing challenges to healthcare systems in general and to drug treatment and care services.People with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) are likely to be more vulnerable during the COVID-19 epidemic due to their clinical, psychological and psychosocial conditions. In addition, social and economic changes caused by the pandemic worsen the situation.


On November 30th, the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (RP-ANC) convened the 6th online consultative meeting of the DDR network with participation of 15 experts from drug treatment centres located in Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The meeting was centred around best practices on prevention and harm reduction services adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic and it aimed to discuss how responses to the pandemic have brought positive developments and have accelerated innovation.

The highlight of the 6th consultative meeting was the presentations delivered by each country on their practices and measures to ensure continuity of service delivery during the challenging time of Covid-19 as well as their efforts to reorganize/restructure services to maximize the responses. In addition, the participants used the opportunity to share their best practices on the use of social media and other online services, medication home delivery and take-home doses, expanded outreach, peer lead support and specific mental health intervention.

This year’s meeting benefited from an overview of positive practices including prevention, harm reduction services, treatment and care implemented at the global level, given by UNODC’s Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section (PTRS) and UNODC HIV/AIDS Section. Moreover, they stressed positive practices on prevention of drug use, violence (including against children), mental health or other negative social outcomes.

The meeting concluded with recommendations by experts to conduct training workshops on treatment of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and to continue the advocacy and dissemination of the International Prevention and Treatment Standards recommended by UNODC and WHO during the pandemic.

The meeting was successfully convened with the support of the Government of Finland.




Reference documents

  • Covid-19 HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs. Available here
  •  WHO guideline recommendations on digital interventions for health system strengthening. Available here