‘Onus on govt to rehabilitate drug addicts’

KATHMANDU: Minister for Health and Population Umakanta Chaudhary today said that the government was ready to rehabilitate the 'outcast' drug users virtually displaced by the society.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of a three-day second National Harm Reduction Conference, jointly organised by Ministry of Home Affairs, Recovering Nepal and Conference Consortium, the minister underscored the need of "eradicating the fatal disease" of drug use. The conference is supported by WHO, GTZ, UNDP and UNODC.

"The rampant use of drug is taking toll on society, public health and national economy as well. Eradicating the "disease" is the need of the hour," Chaudhary said. He also stated that harm reduction would be the scientific and practical way to reduce the mortality rate associated with the drugs. "The government introduced Narcotic Drugs Control Policy-2004 to combat the problem," the minister said, adding, "Plans are afoot to make it more relevant in the context of increasing number of drug users and the problems they are facing in the society."

Minister Chaudhary said that reducing harm and rehabilitating the people displaced by drugs would be the government's top priority. Home Secretary and coordinator of the conference, Shankar Prasad Koirala, said the government would work in unison with international community and private bodies to restore the human rights of both of the displaced and rehabilitated drug users.

"We're doing needful to update the laws to make it more relevant in the changed circumstances," he informed. Robert Piper, country representative of the UN, said South Asia was at high-risk for drug use and the diseases associated with the practice.

The government had recorded 43,309 drug users including 3,356 women in 2005. Experts, however, claim that many cases were unreported. Poverty, illiteracy, family problems and imitation are largely attributed to drug addiction.