UN drugs strategy backed
Manama, October 27, 2011
A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) strategy to tackle Bahrain's drug problem won the backing of participants at a key workshop held in Manama yesterday.
The strategy includes a range of measures like upgrading the existing drug treatment programme, improving skills of drug prevention personnel, encouraging Bahraini families to play a more active role in protecting their children from drugs and promoting anti-drug initiatives through religious institutions.
If adopted, the programme would be rolled out nationwide, having already been introduced in other Arab countries such as Egypt.
More accurate data on the extent of drug abuse in Bahrain would also be gathered to assess the magnitude of the problem.
The UN strategy won the backing of participants at the end of a two-day workshop, attended by representatives of the Interior Ministry, Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry and General Organisation for Youth and Sport.
It took place at the Crowne Plaza under the patronage of Southern Governor Shaikh Abdulla bin Rashid Al Khalifa and was organised by the UNDP, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for the Middle East and North Africa, and the Interior Ministry.
Other recommendations to come out of the event included the establishment of a National Commission for Drug Control to oversee the implementation of the anti-drug strategy; proper funding and a timeline for the strategy to be brought in; as well as the formation of units in each government ministry to execute the plan.
There were also calls for political support and the monitoring of Bahrain's drugs strategy, with periodical reports on its implementation.
"We have been working for three to four years on numerous surveys and questionnaires from all relevant parties including drug addicts and religious leaders," said the director of the national drug project, Ahmed Bukhowa.
"Based on these studies, we came up with the draft of the strategy and are meeting these parties to come up with the final version and recommendations to pass on to the National Committee for Combating Drugs in Bahrain."
During the event, UNODC projects and programmes director, Faisal Hejazi and consultant, Amr Osman, spoke about the importance of providing support to the families of drug addicts - rather than just helping the addicts themselves - and the importance of rehabilitation.
The UNDP strategy and other recommendations will now be forwarded to Bahrain's National Committee for Combating Drugs, headed by Interior Minister, Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa.
"We don't want the strategy to be implemented only by the UNDP and Interior Ministry, but also want the society's participation and for society to own the strategy," said Bukhowa. – TradeArabia News Service