Thursday, December 10, 2015

Prem Das Rai Calls for a People Centred Approach to Drug Abuse

Press Release
 Highlights Sikkim’s SAATHI Program as a Model Positive Intervention 
Sikkim Lok Sabha MP called for a fresh people centred approach to address the drug use issue through the lens of human rights and public health. He emphasized that when it comes to addressing drug abuse, the rights way is the right way.
Rai made these comments while participating in a special dialogue on “the right to health and safety of people who use drugs: importance of prevention, treatment and care”, which was organized to commemorate the World Human Rights Day on December 10, 2015. The event was hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for South Asia in collaboration with The Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS (FPA) and the India HIV/AIDS Alliance.
Rai stated that interventions focused on drug abuse prevention, especially targeted at the youth, are the need of the hour, He called for harnessing the positive power of peer influence and highlighted Sikkim government’s SAATHI initiative as model program in this direction. He shared that SAATHI seeks to expand to 100 schools and aims to impact over 100,000 school students across Sikkim between 2016-2019.
Rai informed that over 25 students from Tadong, accompanied by 5 teachers, will be attending a sensitization session at the UNODC office on December 15, 2015. The session will focus on generating awareness about the health, social and economic implications of drug abuse.
SAATHI is a drug intervention programme under Chief Minister’s Youth Empowerment and Self Reliant Mission and works with students and teachers to spread positive influences. Rai is the Chairman of the Steering Committee overseeing the execution of the SAATHI program.
Answering a query on the need for evidence-based policy to tackle drug abuse, the Sikkim Lok Sabha MP highlighted the need to undertake continuous assessment of the trends and patterns of drug use. Rai stated that he has introduced a Private Member Bill to this effect – which calls for the need to conduct yearly surveys to understand the extent, pattern and trend of drug use.

Earlier, the event commenced with a welcome address by senior Rajya Sabha MP Oscar Fernandes, who chairs The Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS (FPA). Participants at the dialogue include Christina Albertin, UNODC Representative for South Asia; Nagaland Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio; Ghazala Meenai, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment; Dr. Neeraj Dhingra, Deputy Director General, National AIDS Control Organisation; Rajesh Nandan Srivastava, Additional Director General, National Academy of Customs Excise and Narcotics; Dr. SK Khandelwal, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Simon Beddoe, Advocacy Officer, India-HIV Alliance, among others.