BANGKOK – The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) hosted a meeting with the INCB at its Bangkok headquarters. Ambassadors from around 20 countries and about 100 ONCB members attended the event.
According to the annual INCB, East and Southeast Asia are home to the second largest area of illicit opium poppy cultivation in the world, representing one-fifth of the global total.
Asia has the largest drug factories for amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), the biggest crop areas of opium, and the most active drug trafficking networks, according to the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB).
Half of the international seizures of amphetamine-type drugs in 2010 were made in Southeast Asia and further increases were also reported throughout the region in 2011.
The research also showed that West Asia, especially Afghanistan, had the greatest share of global illicit opium poppy cultivation and illicit opiate (heroin, morphine, etc) production.
Uncertain security situations and political instability across West Asia provided fertile ground for illegal activities, resulting in increasing levels of trafficking in drugs and money laundering.
Seizure data suggested that both trafficking and public use of codeine-based cough syrups, buprenorphine and methamphetamine, or ya baa, are rising in the region.
The annual report also mentioned that North America remained the biggest illegal drug market in the world, with the highest drug-related death rate. The use of illegal drugs in Europe has stabilized in recent years, after reaching a high level.
The report described how chemical trafficking organizations circumvent international precursor controls by using new or specially designed non-scheduled substances, or by moving illegal manufacturing operations to regions with weaker control.
INCB President Raymond Yans said that in recent years, there has been an unprecedented surge in the abuse of new psychoactive substances. Statistics show that the number of internet sites selling psychoactive substances have soared, especially in Europe.
“Clear action must be taken now by governments to prevent and deal with the so-called ‘legal highs’ and ‘designers drugs’ which are already a threat to public health and pose a significant challenge to public health systems,” he said.
Wrong uses of prescription drugs are also a growing issue. The behavior continued to spread in all regions of the world and has increased substantially in recent years, the report said.
Trafficking in and illegal uses of prescription drugs and over-the-counter pharmaceutical preparations containing internationally controlled substances is a serious problem in Asia.
The INCB urged governments to strengthen control measures for trade and distribution of illicit drugs.
The board also warned that the abuse of prescription drugs by injection increases the risk of infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C Misuse of tranquilizers and sedatives is also a concern, it said.
Mr Yans said, “The drug problem is a truly global problem that necessitates a global solution. We all have a shared responsibility to address it, be it at international, national, community, or even at a personal level.”