Govt launches nationwide campaign against drug abuse

Kathmandu, June 20

The government today launched a week-long awareness campaign to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The day is celebrated on June 26. The theme of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is ‘Listen First- Listening to children and youth is the first step towards helping them grow healthy and safe’.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, it has requested all provinces, districts and local levels to conduct a week-long awareness programmes (from June 20 to 26) and hold rallies, workshops and interactions with special focus on schools and colleges, medical stores and cargo entrepreneurs, among others, under the national theme ‘Solidarity against Drug Crimes is the Commitment to making Healthy, Strong and Prosperous Nepal’.

MoHA Secretary Prem Kumar Rai said the ministry in association with various governmental and non-governmental organisations would step up vigil on the production, possession, storage, transportation and consumption of illicit drugs to end the social problem facing the country and prevent the young generation from abusing drugs, a press release issued by the ministry said.

According to the MoHA, prevention of drug abuse would be an effective investment for the well-being of those addicted to drugs, their families and communities.

Nepal is being used by international drug trafficking rings as a transit to push hard drugs, including cocaine and heroin, to destination countries while the growing abuse of psychoactive substances and injectable drugs has emerged as a big problem in the country. The annual growth rate of drug users is 11.36 per cent. Though we are doing our best to control supply, lack of awareness among people about health, economic and social consequences of drug abuse continue to hit the nation. If the demand for drugs amongst users decreases, it will automatically discourage the racketeers, the MoHA warned.

A study conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2013 shows the number has nearly doubled to 91,534 in 2013 from 2007. The ministry has also directed Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department to intensify efforts to combat drug smuggling and abuse.  Illegal trade and use of drugs has not only affected social and economic structures but also contributed to rise in crimes. Around 70 per cent of social crimes in the country are related to drug and alcohol addiction, according to statistics by Nepal Police.

Narcotics Control Bureau, the anti-drug agency of Nepal Police, said it arrested and initiated legal action against around 19,500 persons for their involvement smuggling and peddling drugs over a period of seven years (2011 to 2017) across the country. It underscored the need to raise awareness against drug abuse at local, regional, national and international levels.