The Government of Japan provided US$1.64 million to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to secure essential health services and evidence-based drug use prevention, treatment and care programmes for drug use disorders for the population affected by the economic vulnerabilities and rapidly growing drug use in Sri Lanka.
This funded project comprises the UNODC’s programmes to address the urgent needs emerging from current context in Sri Lanka, for the duration of one year, with initial actions started in February 2023. In the country, due to the economic crisis the space of legal income-generating opportunities has shrunk drastically, which reportedly has pushed more people towards illegal activities as a means of living, especially the trafficking of illicit drugs. In this context, drug use such as pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis, heroin and methamphetamine has been sharply on the rise both in urban and rural areas including school-aged children and adolescents. Accordingly, the number of people with drug use accompanied by negative health and social consequences is estimated to be rapidly increasing, while affecting social stability.
Under the project, is envisaged that those at risk of drug use and already affected by drug use and drug use disorders will be supported through drug use prevention, treatment and care interventions that are based on scientific evidence and ethical principles. These services are to be delivered with particular attention to those with special vulnerabilities, such as children, youths, women, and minorities, through UNODC’s expanded partnerships with relevant Ministries of the Government of Sri Lanka, UN and other international and regional agencies, as well as NGOs in a multi-sectorial manner.
National Dangerous Drug Control Board (NDDCB) confirms the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to continuing to monitor and assess the emerging trends and complex drug market. It is also determined to undertake the necessary steps to mitigate the risks of drug abuse including referral of persons with drug use and drug use disorders for voluntary admissions to medical treatment and rehabilitation. Sri Lanka currently values therapeutic approaches for drug-addicted persons over punitive measures and necessary actions have been taken to incorporate effective and efficient treatment and rehabilitation approaches at the residential and community levels in consultation with the relevant government stakeholders.
“Investing in drug prevention and treatment is an investment in the social, economic, and moral fabric of our society. It’s about recognizing that every person struggling with addiction deserves access to compassionate and effective care, and that by addressing the root causes of addiction, we can build healthier, more resilient communities for generations to come.” Emphasized FISD (Foundation for Innovative Social Development), one of NGO partners working on drug demand reduction as importance of such initiatives.
In response to this challenging situation, UNODC is to introduce programmes on drug use prevention, treatment, and care to be tailored to the context of the country, scaling them up through the cooperation with the government, UN and other partner agencies and NGOs. The key to achieving this includes developing and strengthening the coordination mechanism among the relevant authorities, as well as introducing systematic capacity development for those who disseminate drug use prevention tools or deliver treatment and care services for people affected by drug use disorders.