To help advocate on the issue, three advocacy materials, the implementation framework for the narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances (NDPS) and substance abuse Act 2005 in Dzongkha, the flip chart that has ten key prevention messages on drug use and HIV and the annual report 2008 were launched yesterday by the health minister lyonpo Zangley Dukpa.
“This year we want to make a shift because without advocacy it’s difficult to reach the people,” said the executive director of BNCA, Kinley Dorji.
He said that a Dzongkha version of the implementation framework had to be published for better interpretation of the act especially for those who work at the ground level and don’t understand English. “This would be immensely helpful while discussing and communicating with DYT and GYT members,” said Kinley Dorji.
The flip chart with messages to prevent drug use and HIV will be distributed to all schools said BNCA officials.
Although drugs problem is not new in Bhutan, BNCA feels that the ill effects in the proper context are yet to be understood. The advocacy materials would help create awareness on the catalytic role of drugs and substance abuse in the spread of HIV/AIDS, on the ill effects of drugs and substance abuse and on the ways to seek help if caught in the web of drugs.
There are three levels of advocacy program. Primary prevention education for non–users to stay clean of drugs and secondary prevention education with guidance and counseling for those who experiment with drugs. The third level is for those who have become addicts and the program includes detox treatment, rehabilitation centers and aftercare counseling.
BNCA is working closely with the UN office of drugs and crime’s (UNODC) regional office for South Asia in Delhi for this program. UNODC has also given technical assistance to BNCA and through advocacy plans to reduce the spread of HIV among the drug population.
A total of 418 NDPS related offenders were arrested in 2008 states the annual report. 56 drug traffickers were arrested, two of who were females. “There has been an increase in the number of traffickers and drug abuse is rampant in urban centers.”
Kinley Dorji said that while most cited unemployment as the reason for abusing drugs, he feels that lack of parental care and guidance to those who live as dependents in urban centers could also be linked for youth taking drugs.
Speaking on the drug issue, the health minister said, “We know it’s a global, regional and it has now become a national concern. Drug problem has become an obstacle, an impediment to fulfill our development philosophy, so lets join hands to make Bhutan truly a land of happiness.”