Context: The World Drug report 2020 was released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the International Day Against Drug Abuse celebrated every year on 26th June.

Findings of the report:

  • The economic downturn due to COVID-19 may leave people vulnerable to the use and trafficking of illicit drugs.
  • Drug use is more prevalent in Developed countries but Drug use disorders are more common in developing countries due to -
    • poverty, 
    • limited opportunities for education and jobs, 
    • stigma and social exclusion, which in turn helps to deepen inequalities
  • Only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receive it and some 35.6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally.
    • One out of three drug users is a woman but women represent only one out of five people in treatment. 
    • Moreover, people in prison settings, minorities, immigrants and displaced people also face barriers to treatment due to discrimination and stigma.
  • Around 269 million people used drugs in 2018, up 30% from 2009, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users. 
    • The increase reflects population growth as well as the nature of illicit drugs that are more diverse, more potent and more available. 
  • On the flip side more than 80% of the world’s population, mostly living in low- and middle-income countries, are deprived of access to controlled drugs for pain relief and other medical uses.

Way Ahead:

  • Governments have repeatedly pledged to work together to address the challenges posed by the world drug problem in the SDGs( Sustainable Development Goals) attainment.
    • The recent one being the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2019.
  • Now facing the gravest socio-economic crisis in generations, governments cannot afford to ignore the dangers illicit drugs pose to public health and safety. 
  • Leaving no one behind requires greater investment in evidence-based prevention, as well as treatment and other services for drug use disorders, HIV, hepatitis C and other infections. 
  • We need international cooperation -
    • to increase access to controlled drugs for medical purposes, while preventing diversion and abuse
    • to strengthen law enforcement action to dismantle the transnational organized crime networks.
  • Health-centred, rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to drug use and related diseases are the sine qua non for better public health outcomes. 

UN Office on Drugs and Crime:

  • It was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations Office at Vienna.
  • It was established to support the UN in better addressing a coordinated, comprehensive response to the interlinked issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs, crime prevention and criminal justice, international terrorism, and political corruption.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and was renamed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2002.