Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Asia

National Strategies in South Asia

The Government of Bangladesh promulgated the Narcotics Control Act in 1990 which includes the establishment of a national drug control administration headed by the National Narcotics Control Board (NNCB). The functions and responsibilities of the NNCB are to frame policies for drug abuse prevention, treatment and rehabilitation and carry out research/surveys to determine the extent of drug abuse. The Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), an administrative branch of the NNCB, was established as the focal point for the Government's drug abuse control activities. A Five Year Master Plan for Drug Abuse Prevention and Control in Bangladesh was launched in 1993 by the DNC (DNC 1991).

A new law on drug control had been passed in 1988 by Bhutan as a preventive measure for the near future (ESCAP 1991).

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act contemplates a definite scheme for the apprehension, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts. The consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substances in India is forbidden and is punished by imprisonment or fine or both (Singh, Dr. H. 1993).

            The Ministry of Welfare devised a three-pronged strategy to reduce the demand of dependence-producing drugs: (1) Awareness building and public education for drug abuse prevention; (2) community-based action for the identification, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts; (3) training for governmental and non-governmental staff engaged in drug abuse prevention. The strategy is based on the belief that a coordinated response of governmental and non-governmental organizations is more effective (Singh, Dr. H. 1993). A large number of voluntary organizations are supported by the government to carry prevention and treatment activities (ESCAP 1993).

Since 1986, the Committee for the Prevention of Drug Abuse has been functioning within the Ministry of Health and Welfare as the focal point for national strategies and actions (Maldives 1993).

The Narcotic Drugs Control Section of the Ministry of Home is the national drug abuse control unit. A National Coordination Committee was appointed in 1991 to oversee policies and plans in the drug control field. The Committee is composed of, inter alia, representatives from the Health, Education, Finance, Law and Justice, Labour and Social Welfare, Communication and Foreign Affairs ministries (Masterplan 1992). The Master Plan for Drug Abuse Control (1992-1997) was launched in 1992 and encompasses both law enforcement and demand reduction sectors. Demand reduction activities are carried out by the Ministry of Health, and law enforcement by the Home Ministry (Nepal 1993).

            The effectiveness as well as collection of drug related data by the Narcotic Drugs Control Section is reported limited by the lack of funds, trained personnel and equipment (CMO 1991).

The principal law dealing with drug offences is the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance of 1935, amended by Act No. 13 of 1984. This has some of the most stringent penal sanctions for drug offences in the world, with penalties ranging from heavy fines to life imprisonment or death for the more serious offences. The Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Act provides for certain control systems to regulate manufacture, sale, distribution, labelling, and advertising of therapeutic substances. The Police, Customs, and Excise implement this Act (Sri Lanka 1993).

            The National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB), established in 1984, formulates and reviews national policies relating to the prevention and control of drug abuse. The National Policy formulated in 1990 envisages an integrated approach to drug control with enforcement going hand-in-hand with preventive education, and treatment/rehabilitation. The NDDCB also conducts preventive educational programmes, runs treatment/rehabilitation centres/camps, provides counselling, undertakes research studies and also runs the National Narcotics Laboratory. The Board is responsible for coordinating all prevention and control activities in government and NGO Sectors (Ratnayake, Y. 1993).

            The Government of Sri Lanka has declared a national policy against drug abuse and drug trafficking, in intensifying the enforcement agencies capabilities in reducing the supply of narcotic drugs. Amendments to the existing law has been accepted by the Government, and in the area of the seizure, freezing and confiscation of assets amassed by trafficking, legislation is under consideration (De Silva, B. 1993).

     The State has taken positive steps in preventive education to create an awareness of the drug problem and to reduce the demand. The available special treatment/rehabilitation facilities are being further developed. Legislation is under consideration to include a provision by which drug dependents could be subjected to compulsory treatment and rehabilitation as alternate to punishment (De Silva, B. 1993).