TODAY -

CoNE appeals dept to seek feedbacks from public
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 19 2019: While lauding the State's Social Welfare Department for taking the major initiative in formulating a State specific drug policy which will help in controlling the drug menace in the state, the Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) has urged the department to expedite the process and upload the first draft of the drug policy on its official website and seek suggestions, opinions and feedback from all sections of the society before the draft is finalised so as to ensure that it effectively addresses drug issues in the state.

Speaking to The Sangai Express, CoNE president Nalinikanta Rajkumar pointed out that formulation of a State specific drug policy was initiated in 2009 by Social Welfare Department and the matter was even highlighted in local newspapers by certain Ministers.

However, the matter has been left pending for quite a long time.

While asserting that the present and the then Social Welfare Minister had repeatedly talked about formulating a State specific drug policy on many occasions but with very little progress, Nalinikanta asked the incumbent Government not to repeat the same mistake.

Though the initiative taken up by the Social Welfare Department after a long gap is praiseworthy, taking feedbacks and suggestions from all stake holders, specially drug users community is quite important during the process of formulating the policy as it has to be comprehensive and vibrant enough to address issues related with drugs, he added.

The drug policy will be toothless if it does not take into account the plights and problems being faced by drug users, such as the high level of discrimination, cruelties and harassment being meted out to them and violation of human rights in the society, Nalinikanta said adding that taking the opinions and feedbacks from the community of people who use drugs is necessary in this regard.

Maintaining that the implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention and control programme became effective only after the involvement of People Living with HIV (PLHIV), Nalinikanta Rajkumar pointed out that the same initiative also needs to be replicated in the case of formulating a State specific drug policy if at all the policy is to be made effective.

Further informing that the latest survey conducted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) in 2019 estimated that the number of Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) in the State has increased to 34,344 from around 24,000 in 2009, he maintained that the increased number of drug users has clearly indicated that the initiative taken up by the Social Welfare Department is the need of the hour.

Notably, Manipur, being situated on the transit route of international drug smugglers, has been facing a serious issue of drug abuse for the last many decades with a large chunk of its population already falling prey to drugs.

Subsequently, prevalence of HIV and viral Hepatitis too has risen in the State.

"We urge the authority concerned to include primary prevention, care and support and mainstreaming as important components in the drafting of the State specific drug policy", Nalinikanta added.

Many anti-drug civil bodies, NGOs, CSOs and law enforcing agencies have been fighting against the menace of substance abuse in the State since the past many decades.

However, instead of containing the issue of substance abuse, the number of drug users has been only rising which testifies that the Government policies and programmes for tackling the issues related with drugs are not adequate or effective enough.

Moreover, issues of violating human rights of drug users and inaccessibility to public healthcare are some other serious issues.

Many quarters have been questioning Government's sensitivity towards the problems of drug users and the issues besieging the same community, added CoNE president.


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