UNODC head briefs Swiss health minister on drug prevention and treatment

Doctor (Google Images)12 April 2012 - The Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. Yury Fedotov, has briefed Mr. Pascal Strupler, State Secretary of Health of Switzerland, about the balanced health-centred approaches employed by his Office in the area of drug use prevention and the treatment of drug dependence.

At their meeting today in the Swiss capital, Bern, Mr. Fedotov said that drug dependence was a public health issue with serious health, development and security implications. Therefore, UNODC is supporting worldwide interventions that are based on a public health and human rights approach, with the aim of building healthier communities.  Additionally, in partnership with the World Health Organization and the International Narcotics Control Board, UNODC is developing a new programme to increase access to pain medications worldwide.

While in Bern, Mr. Fedotov visited KODA, a medically supervised "heroin assisted treatment facility", which helps chronic addicts who have unsuccessfully undergone treatment for drug use. The centre aims to improve the health of patients while facilitating their gradual social reintegration.

During the 55th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held last month, the Executive Director urged States to intensify health strategies as part of a comprehensive response to drug demand, supply and trafficking. "Prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration and health have to be recognized as key elements in our strategy", he said.  At the session, Mr. Fedotov discussed drug policy with former President of the Swiss Confederation, Ruth Dreifuss.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which is the central policy-setting body within the United Nations system dealing with illicit drugs, adopted resolutions on the treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration of drug-dependent prisoners; treatment as an alternative to incarceration; and preventing death from drug overdose.

The Executive Director thanked Mr. Strupler for the long-standing support of Switzerland for the work of UNODC in the area of drug demand reduction.