|(Microsoft Clip Art)|
Efforts are under way to have a database that will provide information on illegal drug activity to key stakeholders.
Known as the Barbados Drug Information Network (BARDIN), it is a scientifically based model of information gathering that is designed to greatly support the country’s collection, analysis and reporting requirements for drug-related data and information. It will also allow agencies that collect any drug-related data to network among themselves for policy formulation and programme development.
A two-day training workshop is currently under way at the Accra Beach Hotel, Rockley, Christ Church for representatives from 19 local agencies, as well as officials from Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States who are involved in data collection It is being sponsored by the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) in collaboration with the Organisation of the American States’ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission.
In her feature address, Manager of the NCSA, Yolande Forde, explained that the aim of the workshop was to provide a forum to revisit the operational framework used to collect and disseminate drug-related information. "The Barbados Drug Information Network, known as BARDIN, is the mechanism through which Barbados collects and disseminates information on drug demand reduction and drug supply controlled activities.
"The BARDIN model is built on the premise that it is important for all government ministries, departments and non-governmental organisations, which collect information on drugs to be part of an integrated data collection and information sharing network," she said.
Ms. Forde admitted that persons who were engaged in the challenge of tackling drugs were "in some cases, behind in the game. Because for them it is an investment for us it is a cost. The establishment of a revamped BARDIN is a step in the right direction. If we do not have a proper assessment of the problem, we cannot properly address it…and through BARDIN we are going to be able to have a scientifically based network that would allow us to determine the extent, the nature and the dimensions of the drug problem."
Ms. Forde pointed out Barbados was handicapped because of the absence of an information sharing culture. She noted, for instance, that it was customary for individual agencies to only circulate their data internally, or not to share that information at all. In light of this practice, she gave the assurance that BARDIN was going "through the correct protocol", ensuring that relevant data was shared among departments, "so that we can have a comprehensive and integrated approach to a common problem."
The NCSA Manager explained that government’s response to the drug challenge in Barbados was based on two approaches-drug demand reduction and drug supply interdiction.
She said these included such measures as prevention programming, which involved education, treatment and rehabilitation, along with research and analysis, of which her organisation had overall responsibility.
Meanwhile, OAS Country Representative, Francis McBarnette, contended that in order for nations to effectively combat the drug menace "we need to be armed with valid and reliable information". He said: "Countries that have surveillance systems have a distinct advantage in being able to identify new trends, develop appropriate policies and responses that are evidenced-based and, importantly, measure and evaluate progress."
He pledged the OAS would "continue to support and assist the government of Barbados in the fight against the drug menace through training and other mechanisms".