Recognizing The Common Ground Between Drugs and Public Health

Zuma visits Eldorado Park over drugs safety 2 [gcis]

As the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in April 2016 approaches, the reevaluation of metrics to best evaluate drug policy have become a concern. Thus the panel discussion, co-organized by the United Nations University (UNU) and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP), focused on what indicators will be utilized in the process of measuring the impact of illicit drugs.

Dr. Dan Werb opened the meeting by introducing the ICSDP’s open letter, “A Call for a Reprioritization of Metrics to Evaluate Illicit Drug Policy.” Werb highlighted four main categories for indicators presented in this letter; Health, Peace & Security, Development, and Human Rights. He reasoned that these four categories are needed in order to prioritize the impact of illicit drug usage above the quantitative value or amount. Dr. Daliah Heller shared this sentiment. She suggested that the UN conduct public health surveillance that monitors drug-related injury, illness, disease, and death whilst setting health intervention benchmarks. She concluded that although criminal justice has dominated drug policy for the past five decades, equity must become the primary lens through which drug policy is examined.

Following, Dr. Kanna Hayashi presented her research and shared how People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) account for 30% of new HIV cases outside of sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of which are located in Asia. She reasoned that this could be combatted by adhering to evidence based standards, as well as ensuring service coverage and accessibility to Methadone therapy. Ms. Genevieve Sanders explained that, “human rights have been one of the great omissions from the evaluation of drug policy.” She explained that the OHCHR Guide can be adapted for drug policy in order to incorporate human rights indicators. The meeting concluded with the panel answering questions from the audience.

Meeting: Identifying common grounds for the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016 (UNGASS 2016): Rethinking metrics to evaluate drug policy

Date/Location: Thursday, January 21st, 2016; 13:15-14:45; Conference Room 7, UN Headquarters, New York, New York

Speakers: Dr. Dan Werb, Director, International Centre for Science in Drug Policy; Dr. Kanna Hayashi, Research Scientist, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS; Dr. Daliah Heller, Clinical Professor, CUNY School of Public Health; Ms. Genevieve Sander, Human Rights Research Analyst, Harm Reduction International

Written By: WIT Representative Yume Murphy

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: GCIS via Flickr

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