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July 17, 2019

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking message by Union Minister for Home Affairs Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe

As today being International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking countries all over the world were holding events to commemorate the day and as of 2019 this is the 32nd time that it had been held. First I would like to wish that all our citizens may be free from the menace and threat of drug.
Drug problem has been threatening the health and socio-economic life of people in the world while causing transnational crimes, terrorist attack, armed revolution and insurgency using income from the drug trafficking and eroding regional stability and the rule of law.
About 5.6% of the world population or 275 million had used drug at least once during a one year period. Out of this 31 million were addicted to drug and require medical treatment. Due to this, cost of treatment and rehabilitation were rising as well as for administering justice and for imprisonment of offenders. Due to drug abuse by youth, families face social and economic problems affecting a country’s development.
Prevention plays one of the main roles in resolving the drug problem. To educate the danger of drug and for youth to follow it must start from primary, middle and high school age to those obtaining education in universities. In order to spread knowledge and information about the danger of drug, starting from 1998 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Day open to all competitions on short stories, articles, poem, song, photograph, computer generated poster and theme were conducted to encourage the participation of all while painting, cartoon, poster and computer arts competitions were held for primary, middle and high school level students. Competitions were held simultaneously in states and regions and union, state and region leaders themselves presented awards to the winners of the competitions.
The Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control was established in 1976 with 16 members from the relevant line ministries. Ten Working Subcommittees were also established under the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control. In addition, Drug Control Committees were established at State, Region, District, Township, down to Wards and Village to fight against drugs at the grassroots level.
While conducting prevention of drug abuse and providing treatments, eradication of illicit production and trade of drugs was also conducted. To increase the momentum of the eradication works, Drug Activity Special Complaint Department was formed at the Office of the President on 22 June 2018 under the instruction and guidance of the President to facilitate the reporting of drugs information by the public. Reports and information provided were systematically received and substantial amount of heroin and other drugs were exposed and seized. Anti-Narcotics Police Force had conducted operations in areas where many drug cases occur and to date 25 operations were conducted. The drug eradication efforts of Tatmadaw, Myanmar Police Force and Anti-Narcotics Police Force were announced weekly starting from 18 July 2018. To raise the capacity of the eradication works, the State had permitted funds and supported modern equipment increasing the effectiveness of the eradication works.
According to records of illicit poppy cultivation and production, in 2017 poppy was cultivated on 41,000 hectares of land and 550 metric tons was produced. In 2018 poppy was cultivated on 37,380 hectares of land and 520 metric tons was produced. As such cultivation was reduced by 9.1% while production was reduced by 5.45%.
Although there was a reduction in cultivation and poppy production on one hand, on the other hand there were increases in illicit drug seizures and production. Instead of producing drugs from poppy, synthetic drugs were increasingly produced from chemicals and precursors. Using of such drugs was also on the rise and demand was far from falling. This need to be noted and the participation and cooperation of the people is required. Only then can the goal of a drug free nation be reached.
To raise the livelihood of the opium farmers the Union government is cooperating with international organizations and acquiring technical supports to conduct Alternative Development (AD) Projects. To create markets for the products of AD Projects, particularly coffee, an MOU was signed with Malongo, a company from France, to export coffee to European countries.
Support and assistance toward conducting livelihood and livestock raising projects in townships of poppy cultivating regions, health care services for the raised livestock, education and information talks and courses on raising livestock, beekeeping and honey production works were conducted. Through conducting such support services and alternative development works for opium farmers, illicit cultivation and poppy production will be reduced.
On educating young students, subjects on preventing usage of drugs were taught while other education and information works were conducted consistently without interruption.
Prevention and educating in advance is effective toward reducing drug usage so easy, fast and effective methods of informing and educating students, youth and the whole people of the danger of drug were being used by Ministry of Education and Ministry of Information.
On the health care side, 29 major treatment departments, 56 sub-departments and 55 methadone clinics were used to provide treatment to drug addicts. In 2018 a total of 10,849 patients were treated.
Drug addicts are being rehabilitated through rehabilitation camps and community-based support and projects, which help them recover mentally and physically, so that they can be reintegrated back into society.
The government is cooperating with neighboring countries, countries in the region, ASEAN countries, countries outside the regions, BIMSTEC member countries and Greater Mekong Sub Region countries. Furthermore it is mutually cooperating with Myanmar based United States’ DEA, Australia’s AFP, Thailand’s ONCB and China’s NNCC and conducting drug prevention and eradication works.
A new comprehensive Drug Control Policy was drawn up and announced in 20 February 2018. The 1993 Drug Law was reviewed and amended on 14 February 2018. A new National Drug Control Strategic Plan was drawn up to implement the new policy. Based on that plan State/Region wise work plans that were appropriate for each state/region were to be drawn up and implemented by the state/region themselves.
According to the 2019 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking theme of “Health for Justice, Justice for Health” there’s to be more cooperation between the judiciary and health toward handling the drug problem. As the drug problem is threatening the entire human race all of our citizens are urged to participate and cooperate in resolving it as a personal duty.

(Translated by Zaw Min)

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