UNODC vows continued support in curbing drug use

Phnom Penh: Julien Garasny, deputy head of the United Nations Office and Drugs and Crime, yesterday met Health Minister Mam Bun Heng and told him that the UN body will continue to provide technical support to ministry officials fighting drugs and help curb drug use in the Kingdom.

Mr Garasny after the meeting said UNODC will also cooperate with the government to provide rehabilitation to drug addicts.

He added that drug users are not criminals, and they should be treated as victims.

 “UNODC will continue to support the government’s policy of introducing drug addiction strategies to send drug users to volunteer in their community to get treatment, with all expenses borne by the state” Mr Garasny said, adding that this is a strategy that should be adopted by countries in the region. “It is a good strategy for them to get treatment in their community.”

Mr Bun Heng thanked the UN body for its support in addressing the use of drugs in the Kingdom.

“The ministry asked UNODC to work on providing rehabilitation services for drug addicts, provide education to young people through texts, videos and training modules,” he said. “We asked them to help our health officials as well”

Mr Bun Heng noted that the ministry has expanded its drug treatment facilities to 431 referral hospitals throughout the country in a bid to make services more accessible to citizens.

According to an annual Health Ministry report, there were more than 20,000 addicts last year and that more than 8,000 of them received services in the 431 referral hospitals.

It noted that 44 doctors and 48 nurses have been trained to provide rehabilitation and counselling to the addicts.

According to the Club of Cambodian Journalists and NGO Khana, most addicts began using drugs out of curiosity. They said that when it comes to reporting about drug users, journalists must be cautious about unintentionally creating negative stigma about addicts.