on Drug Policy:
“It’s important that countries have reliable statistics”
Paulina Duarte, Brazilian Head of the National Secretariat for Drug Policy and Vice President of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission’s Demand Reduction Expert Group affirmed, during an interview to Alertamerica.org, that complete and reliable data on drug use will be pivotal to ensuring effective policy making at the national level.
“To define effective policies, it is important that countries have reliable and verifiable data on drug use. It is also necessary to have correct data to distinguish between traffic accidents, and accidents caused by people driving under the influence of drugs” said Secretary Duarte.
Secretary Duarte participated in CICAD’s Demand Reduction Expert Group Meeting that took place between September 27 and 29, 2011 at OAS headquarters in Washington D.C. The group of experts proposed four main recommendations: the use of science in addressing substance abuse and addiction; more efforts to reduce the percentage of people driving under the influence of drugs; prevention of the abuse of prescription drugs; and the promotion of community participation in the fight against drugs.
In response to the recommendations to reduce traffic accidents caused by citizens driving under the influence of drugs, Secretary Duarte reaffirmed the need to “meet the goals of the World Health Organization (WHO) and lower traffic fatalities by 50 per cent over the next decade.”
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), traffic accidents in the Americas result in approximately 140,000 deaths per year, and five million casualties.
The Brazilian official stated that education campaigns currently underway “should be aimed at preventing drug use among youths and adolescents, one of the most vulnerable sectors of society.”
Secretary Duarte also added that there has been talks of regulating “advertising campaigns for alcoholic beverages, so that alcohol cannot be marketed at sporting events. As well as talk of trying to discourage famous musicians, artists, athletes, and other well-known individuals from participating in this sort of publicity.”
“Also, in the particular case of Brazil, we plan to expand highway motor control programs to meet WHO targets.”
Furthermore, Secretary Duarte explained that to succeed in the fight against drugs “it is important to consider the cultural aspects of diverse communities.”
“There are diverse groups with varying interests, such as women or indigenous peoples. There are also specific groups such as youth and adolescents, which are the most defenseless sector of society and are most impressionable” said the Brazilian official.
“Given its size and diversity, Brazil has a very complex drug problem which must be addressed multi-sectorally, not one-dimensionally. This is the only way for countries to succeed in their fight against drugs” she stressed.
Secretary Duarte also noted “the need to increase controls on prescription drugs and increase sanctions to strengthen and reinforce these laws”.