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Sarawak govt receives award for spearheading drug demand reduction activities

0 month ago, 19-Sep-2023

Fatimah (seated middle) joins the participants and other guests for a group photo. Also seen are Travis-Roberts (seated first left) and Fan Yang (seated second right). Photo from Sarawak Public Communications Unit

KUCHING (Sept 19): The Sarawak government has been awarded the Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) Stewardship Award by International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) Global for spearheading integrated, comprehensive, balanced, coordinated and evidence-based approaches to drug demand reduction activities.

The award was presented to Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, who represented Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, at the opening of International Recovery Symposium (IRS) 2023 yesterday.

In a speech text read by Fatimah, Abang Johari said the DDR Stewardship Award marks a pivotal moment for One-Stop Committee (OSC) to Tackle Drug and Substance Issues in Sarawak since ISSUP Global acknowledged the approach in drug demand reduction spearheaded by the Sarawak government.

“The most effective way of tackling the drug issues involves comprehensive, balanced and coordinated approaches that address both supply control and demand reduction, together with the appropriate application of the principle of shared responsibility and actions.

“This has been our journey when the Sarawak government spearheaded an integrated governance, the OSC to Tackle Drugs and Substance Issues, in 2019, comprising members from both enforcement and non-enforcement agencies.

“To enhance her stewardship, the Sarawak government recognised drugs as a security issue in July 2020,” said the Premier.

He also said that thanks to the health care professionals, researchers and support organisations, Sarawak has witnessed remarkable progress in the understanding of addiction and the pathways to recovery.

While Sarawak celebrates its accomplishment at IRS 2023, he pointed out the state must also confront the challenges that lie ahead and to tackle the root causes, be it trauma, economic disparities, mental health, or social pressure.

“We need to invest in prevention and early intervention to mitigate the impact of addiction on individuals, families, and community wellbeing,” he added.

The Premier also hoped knowledge exchange at IRS 2023 will be used to fuel the transformation of Sarawak’s policies, interventions, and communities.

He said Sarawak government takes pride in continuing its commitment and contribution to drug demand reduction in Sarawak and beyond through integrated and robust collaboration between relevant enforcement and non-enforcement agencies, non-governmental organisations, community leaders and vulnerable groups of the community.

He explained this is being done by providing resources and functional coordinating governance through state and district level OSCs and the Community DDR Bureaus.

“Together, we can build a future where addiction is better understood, where treatment and recovery are accessible to all, and where the shadow of addiction is overshadowed by the light of hope,” he said.

The Premier also shared that United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2023 World Drug Report indicates that close to 300 million people globally use drugs, an increase of 23 per cent over the previous decade, while the number of people who suffer from drug use disorders is close to 40 million which is a 45 per cent increase over 10 years.

As for Malaysia, he said the National Health Morbidity Survey 2022 revealed that 60,000 Malaysian teens aged 13 to 17 were using drugs and 106,000 tried drugs at least once in their lifetime.

“Between January and April 2023, the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) registered 137,176 addicts.

“With rapid changes in our social and economic climate, coupled with increased availability and promotion of drugs and the demand for them, there is an increasing magnitude of the global drug abuse problem which makes people, especially youth, more vulnerable and likely to engage in drug use and drug-related risk-taking behaviour,” he said.

The IRS 2023 is organised by the Sarawak government through the Ministry of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Sarawak, with the collaboration of ISSUP Global, NADA, Narcotics Crime Investigation Department Sarawak, Royal Malaysian Customs Department, Malaysia Drugs Prevention Association (Pemadam) and supported by Business Events Sarawak and Sarawak Energy Berhad.

Meanwhile, Fatimah in her speech said 896 participants representing 23 countries are taking part in the IRS 2023 which features 19 esteemed speakers and trainers sharing variety of topics related to prevention, treatment and recovery in drug demand reduction.

She revealed the symposium also witnessed the launch of ISSUP Malaysia, and the launching of the Asia Recovery Network (ARN) to coordinate directions and platforms for professionals, associations, and organisations to network and collaborate to provide addiction treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation support services.

There was exchange of memorandum of understanding (MoU) documents between the Sarawak government and Malaysian Prisons Department to implement a recovery network through an Integrated Social Issue Case Management System to provide social support and referrals for recovering inmates released.

There was presentation of Pheonix Awards to recognised outstanding contributions by individuals and organisations in DDR and recovery, presentation of Sarawak DDR Awards for the Most Active District OSC, and the Most Active Community Bureau.

Those coming to the symposium could also visit an integrated exhibition to showcase DDR activities in Sarawak by the OSC.

“Our Premier has been very instrumental, for his unwavering support and stewardship of policies and resources leading to robust integrated drug demand reduction activities in Sarawak since the establishment of the OSC in 2018,” said Fatimah.

Also present were Fatimah’s deputy ministers Datuk Rosey Yunus and Mohammad Razi Sitam, United States of America Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Officer Fan Yang and ISSUP Global chief executive officer Joanna Travis-Roberts.