Visit delegation from five Central Asian countries
October 24, 2017
October 10th, 2017 a delegation from Central Asian visited the Trimbos Institute. The Trimbos Institute had organized this visit as part of the cooperative agreement of the Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP). The delegation from five Central Asian countries visited the Netherlands to study the Dutch and European drug policies.
From Monday October 9th until Thursday the 12th, the delegation spent time in the Netherlands. The fifteen participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan were all from the Ministries of Interior, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, and Ministries of Health.
Serious drug problems
The Central Asian region is dealing with serious drug problems. Countries in this region have large populations of opiate users with serious health problems. Kazakhstan, for instance, is estimated to have over 110,000 opiate users in a total population of 16 million people.
The current drug policies in this region are characterized by a tough law and order approach. Harm reduction programs (such as needle exchange programs and methadone treatments) are in effect, yet have insufficient reach to have an impact on and make a contribution to drug related public health problems. Yet there also are developments in this region that show a modernization of drug policies.
The CADAP program, financed by the European Commission, focuses on supporting local governments in developing drug policies that are based on a scientific approach and focused on health and human rights. The Trimbos Institute has been involved since 2016. In the past years experts studied the policy situation in these countries, made an inventory of difficulties and possibilities for improvements, and specifically worked to exchange knowledge in specific areas, such as drug monitoring, evidence-based prevention programs, methadone treatment, and the approach of New Psychoactive Substances.
This was the context of the work visit to the Netherlands. In addition to the visit to the Trimbos Institute, where the delegation got presentations about the possibilities of policy and intervention tools, they had presentations by several Ministries and made visits to a number of harm reduction programs.
Meeting in Brussels
The visit was concluded with a special meeting in Brussels where the European Commission had invited the delegations in the context of the European Central Asian cooperation. In this council the results so far of the CADAP project were presented and the five countries had the opportunity to present their policies. It is expected the project will be extended until the end of 2019. The delegations also discussed the wish to have a follow up program further in the future.