November 23, 2017

Intervention by Minister of Health of the Republic of Cyprus H.E. Mr. Giorgos Pamboridis

Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem

New York, 19-21 April 2016

Round Table 1 (19 April, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.): Demand Reduction and related measures, including prevention and treatment, as well as health-related issues, and ensuring the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, while preventing their diversion (“drugs and health”)

Intervention by Minister of Health of the Republic of Cyprus H.E. Mr. Giorgos Pamboridis

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation subscribes to the statement of the European Union. I would like to add some remarks in my national capacity.

Cyprus strongly believes that UNGASS 2016 is an opportunity to exchange views and promote measures that have been proven effective in order to address the world drug phenomenon.

The Republic of Cyprus is fully aligned with the EU position and the EU Drugs Strategy which supports a balanced and evidence-based approach and considers drug dependence as a public health issue and a human rights policy priority.

Dear Excellencies,

Allow me at this point to refer to our national Drugs and Alcohol Strategy for the period 2013-2020 and the main aims of its Demand Reduction Pillar. Concerning drug prevention in Cyprus the main focus is on the support of vulnerable groups in order to prevent the use of illicit and licit substances and the provision of programs in areas of high risk.

In the context of this National Strategy, the following high-risk groups were identified: early school drop-outs, students and/or soldiers that use licit and illicit 20 substances, prisoners’ children, children whose parents face psychological problems or addiction, children of unemployed people, pregnant women that use licit or illicit substances and families that need support.

Concerning drug treatment and social reintegration, the focus of the Strategy is to: a) provide treatment programmes for specific sub groups, such as migrants, women and patients with dual diagnosis, b) increase accessibility to treatment, c) increase treatment programme effectiveness and retention to treatment, d) improve the delivery of treatment within the criminal justice system and e) provide support to individuals at the social reintegration stage.

Along these lines,

The Cyprus Parliament passed last week the legislation that provides for the referral to treatment instead of imprisonment and this, we consider a major step forward. Our Strategy also provides for the implementation of harm reduction practices within the health system. At this point, we would like to stress that drug policies should promote evidence based and cost-effective measures in order to address the drugs phenomenon and its negative consequences. This, is in line not only with the provision of scientifically sound policies, but also ensures that public spending is directed to those policies that work.

Such harm reduction measures that have been implemented in the EU and have proven to be effective as regards the reduction of drug-related deaths, crime and infectious diseases are opioid substitution therapy, needle and syringe exchange programmes and naloxone provision.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are very happy to see that the UNGASS outcome document mentions a number of risks and harm reduction measures. We strongly urge Member States to consider implementing or reinforcing these measures in the context of the drug demand reduction part of the balanced approach.

Evidence suggests that these measures improve health of the people concerned but also save lives.

Thank you.