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U.N. Official Addresses Increasing Drug Addiction In Developing Countries

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Monday warned of an impending “health disaster facing developing countries if wealthy nations fail to control drugs,” Agence France-Presse reports. During a speech delivered in Vienna, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa pointed to “increasing use of heroin in East Africa, cocaine in West Africa, and synthetic drugs in the Middle East and South East Asia as warning signs” of a growing drug problem in impoverished nations (3/8).

Costa remarked that the “developing world – already struggling to deal with health, education and unemployment problems – lacks the treatment facilities and law enforcement to control narcotics,” the Associated Press reports. “‘Poor addicts – and there are millions of them – have been pushed to the margins of society, deprived of medical attention, often exposed to conditions, including imprisonment, that exacerbate their illness,’ Costa said according to a copy of a speech he delivered at a Vienna meeting of the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs,” according to the news service.

“Costa said his office is working with the World Health Organization to achieve universal access to drug treatment and urged governments around the world to protect and respect the human rights of imprisoned addicts and drug users in general,” the AP writes (Oleksyn, 3/8). Costa also said UNOCD is working with UNAIDS to help prevent the spread of HIV among injecting drug users, the AFP reports (3/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.