In the near future Barbados should be able to roll out its anti-drug plan for the period 2013 to 2017.

OAS representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mr. Francis McBarnette, gave this assurance while delivering opening remarks last Tuesday, at the presentation of the NCSA’s findings of the Barbados Drug Information Networks (BARDIN) Report for 2011.

He said that the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Inter- American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) remained committed to the elaboration of this strategic document and had dedicated resources, expertise and other support to facilitate the process. He added that BARDIN was critical in ensuring that the Plan, when launched, responded effectively to the nature of the challenge.

Noting that a recent document of CICAD entitled: Report on Drug Use in the Americas 2011, identified that there was "no single drug problem in the Americas". The OAS representative maintained that this was an important realisation because what it said was that the types of drugs used and the patterns of drug use were driven by the lived environment and these differences were among and within countries.

"This insight has implications for drug policies and programmes.?? We cannot continue to adopt a strategy of one size fits all.?? The response to the drug menace, now more than ever, must be driven by current data or else we run the risk of directing our efforts and limited resources to shadows," he asserted.

Mr. McBarnette also stated that the 2011 Report brought to his attention some very disturbing information about drug use among the school population (13 to 17 years) in Latin America and the Caribbean.?? He pointed out that it emphasised the need for greater focus to the use of alcohol, marijuana and, to some extent, the use of inhalants.

"In our Caribbean space, we must intensify our efforts to build a solid and reliable statistical infrastructure, particularly for social statistics.?? Data remains a major challenge.

"The work that countries are doing, therefore, in establishing Drug Information Networks will help in establishing such an infrastructure and has the potential to serve as an early warning system on the appearance of new drugs, new methods of using and manufacturing these products, and changing trafficking patterns," he underscored.

Of particular interest to the OAS representative was the fact that populations, especially school populations were better educated than in earlier times and, therefore, were aware of drug use and the associated risks.

"We probably expend scarce resources telling them what they already know. The Report …speaks to a disturbing nexus between the perception of risks associated with drug consumption by our school populations and the ease of access to drugs. Drug policies and programmes must deal with these issues," he contended.??

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