The efforts of Sarawak in combating drug abuse have earned the state the Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) Stewardship Award from the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP Global).

The award was presented by ISSUP Global chief executive officer, Joanna Travis-Roberts to Sarawak Women, Early Childhood Education and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah who represented the state government.

The DDR Stewardship Award was in recognition of the integrated, comprehensive, balanced, coordinated and evidence-based approaches to drug demand reduction activities spearheaded by the Sarawak Government, was presented during the opening of the International Recovery Symposium (IRS) 2023, which was held here today.

Sarawak Premier, Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, who was represented by Fatimah at the event said efforts to address drug abuse issues in the state was reinforced in 2019 with the establishment of a One Stop Committee (OSC) to Tackle Drugs and Substance Issues, before the state government recognised drugs as a security issue in July 2020.

“The most effective way of tackling the drug issues involve 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,” he said in his text of speech read by Fatimah.

Abang Johari said Sarawak is concerned about the increasing magnitude of the global drug abuse problem with rapid change in 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 make people especially youth more vulnerable and likely to enggage in drug abuse and drug related risk taking behaviour,” he said.

He said Malaysia was not spared of this menace with the National Health Morbidity Survey 2022 revealing that 60,000 Malaysians aged between 13 to 17 years old were using drugs, with 106,000 having tried drugs at least once in their lifetime. Meanwhile, the National Anti-Drugs Agency registered 137,176 addicts between January to April this year.

The Premier hoped the knowledge exchange at IRS 2023 would fuel the transformation of policies, interventions and communities in order to build a future where addiction is better understood with treatment and recovery being accessible to all.

About 900 participants from 23 countries took part in the four-day symposium starting today which featured 19 speakers and trainers who will be deliberating on a variety of topics related to prevention, treatment and recovery in drug demand reduction.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

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