|European illicit drugs policy and global health|
|Thursday, 02 July 2009 13:05|
The use and abuse of addictive substances, whether controlled by the state, like alcohol and tobacco, or illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, have a major impact on health. Such drugs not only affect their users, but also have an impact on crime, violence and accident levels. Public concerns about the issue have been raised in recent years due to the high-profile role that injecting drug use has played in the spread of blood-borne infectious diseases such as HIV. However, equally important is the role that substance abuse has been shown to play in the epidemiology of mental illness. This was acknowledged in a 2008 World Health Organization initiative, the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), which addresses mental, neurological and substance-abuse disorders and deaths together as related concerns.
The EU's interdisciplinary approach and action plan to combat drugs - with its acknowledgement of the need to coordinate internally and act externally - mirrors recent developments in Europe's strategy for health. Like drug use and addiction in a population, health is also a largely social phenomenon requiring coordination horizontally between various policy fields and vertically through different levels of government. Global health policy and drug policy professionals should be able to cooperate and learn from each other's experiences in tackling such large-scale issues, which depend on effective collective action.
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