Workshop discusses plan of action on drugs

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At a recently held opening ceremony of a national workshop on the United Nations Special Session on the World’s Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016) and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission’s Hemispheric Plan of Action on Drugs 2016 – 2020, Samantha Marshall, Minister of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development, Youth and Gender Affairs presented the feature address.

In her remarks, the Minister indicated her desire that as a result of the consultancy today that emphasis would be placed on aspects of capacity building and training within our communities to improve the health and welfare of the people within Antigua and Barbuda.

Also, in attendance was Ena Henry, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, and members of various Governmental agencies to include Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force, Royal Police Force Antigua and Barbuda, the Department of Immigration, and the Ministry of Education, Substance Abuse Division, Her Majesty’s Prison, the Ministry of Health, Mt. St. John Medical Centre, Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital and the Ministry of Social Transformation.

Lt. Col. Edward Croft, Director, ONDCP and Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda to the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) hosted Ms. Angela Crowdy, Assistant Executive Secretary, CICAD / Organization of American States (OAS), Ms Regina Rohrbach and Ms. Doris Resch, Secretariat to the Governing Bodies, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Ms. Esther Best, Manager, National Drug Council, Trinidad and Tobago at the Workshop to share best practices and share experiences in relation the drug problem both internationally and regionally.  The workshop was held at the ABDF Training Base.

In his opening remarks, Director Edward Croft, referenced the recently released Hemispheric Report on Drug Use in the Americas and also mentioned a study conducted among the Secondary school population in 2013 which revealed that our beloved country ranked second in the hemisphere with past year prevalence use of marijuana among Secondary School students and was also ranked second in the region in regards to the lifetime prevalence of illegal use of marijuana among 8th graders, and that drug use among the school population was a growing problem.

The negative impact of drugs or illegal substances on the family, individuals and society is well known, but it is more desirable that governments could better utilize their resources for improved health care, education and more sustainable projects than expending on fighting the drug trade.

Angela Crowdy, CICAD Assistance Executive Secretary elaborated on the work that the OAS/ CICAD has been undertaking in the Caribbean region, as well as continued efforts to support the effective drug policies and strategies in the Hemisphere, while Regina Rohrbach remarked on the commitment of the UNODC to provide assistance in strengthening the efforts of the national entity to be more effective in addressing the World’s Drug problems.

Crowdy presented Minister Samantha Marshall, Permanent Secretary Ena Henry, and Antigua and Barbuda’s Commissioner to CICAD, Lt. Col Edward Croft with copies of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM), Antigua and Barbuda, Evaluation Report on Drug Policies. The MEM is an instrument designed to measure the progress of actions taken by the member states of the OAS to address the hemispheric drug problem and other related crimes.

The Evaluation more widely covers the cross-cutting issues of human rights, gender, age, culture and social inclusion in accordance with the recommendations contained in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) 2016 Outcome Document and the Objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development within the region.