UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem starts today

Categories: Policy.

The UNGASS will review global drug policy and produce an Outcome Document setting out recommendations for UN Member States to ensure that their national policies on controlled substances enhance “the wellbeing of mankind.”

For the first time ever, the draft of the Outcome Document contains a stand-alone section on access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes. It is hoped that the inclusion of this issue will lay the foundation for national policies which allow access to controlled medications for pain control.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) estimates that 75% of the world’s population lacks access to essential pain relieving medications. This is due in a large part to overly strict national policies aimed at reducing the supply of illicit substances. These policies have tragic consequences for people in pain and their families.

In his opening address to the Civil Society Forum yesterday, Dr Yury Fedotov, Director General of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), thanked civil society organisations for their participation in the preparations for the UNGASS.

He said: “UNODC has worked with some 500 non-governmental and civil society organisations at the local, national, regional and global levels on prevention, harm reduction, treatment, social integration and alternative development.

“Working with you, we have helped increase access to evidence and rights-based treatment and care in over 40 countries, and promoted access to controlled drugs (sic) for medical purposes.”

Organisations working in hospice and palliative care, and human rights have been at the forefront of the efforts to improve access to controlled medications.

You can read the official programme for the UNGASS 2016 online, and follow @UNGASS2016 and #UNGASS2016 on Twitter.