COMMUNITY-BASED DRUG PREVENTION EDUCATION THE MALAYSIAN EXPERIENCE

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1 COMMUNITY-BASED DRUG PREVENTION EDUCATION THE MALAYSIAN EXPERIENCE 1. INTRODUCTION The Dadah (illicit drugs) problem remains as one of the most serious problems in Malaysia. The Malaysian Government views the dadah problem with grave concern. To give fresh impetus to combat drugs, the National Drug Council, was replaced by The Cabinet Committee on Drugs chaired by the Hon Prime Minister. It has been actively monitoring the development of the dadah situation and the efforts made by the various agencies to combat the problem in the country. 2. Background on the Role of Anti Narcotics Agencies The National Anti-Drug Agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs as the focal point is responsible with the formulation of policies relating to drugs, especially with the drug abuse preventive education, treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependants, international cooperation and enforcement of the drugs laws in the country. The Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police is the main agency for the enforcement of drug laws. The Royal Malaysian Customs is another department involved in enforcing the drug laws and the task is carried out by its Narcotics Division. At a lesser extent, The Pharmaceutical Services Division of the Ministry of Health also enforces the drug laws, in particular the Poisons Act 1952 which controls the sale, import and export of poisons, precursors and essential chemicals. 1

2 2.1 Background of the National Anti-Drugs Agency The National Anti Drugs Agency under the Ministry of Internal Security was set up in 1996 to monitor and control the drug situation in Malaysia. Its functions and powers have now been formalized under the National Anti Drugs Agency Act 2004 The objective of the National Anti Drugs Agency is to ensure that national effort in combating the drug menace is carried out in a planned, integrated and coordinated manner to create a drug-free society. The terms of reference of the National Anti Drugs Agency are as follows: a. to implement preventive programs b. to implement drug treatment and rehabilitation programs; c. upgrade the system for data collection and to carry out evaluation on the effectiveness of all national anti drug programs; d. enhance regional and international cooperative efforts to combat the drug problems; and e. serve as a Secretariat to the Cabinet Committee on Drugs and its Action Committees The National Anti Drugs Agency operates at the Federal, State and District levels. 3. OVERVIEW OF THE DRUG ABUSE SITUATION The total number of addicts detected in January December 2008 was 12,352 persons. 5,939 were new cases (48.08%) and 6,413 (51.92%) were relapse cases. There was an overall decline of 14.75% compared to the previous year. On the average 495 new cases are detected monthly. a) Types of drugs Used Of the 12,352 addicts identified from January to December 2008, 4,974 addicts used heroin/morphine, 1,726 addicts abused 2

3 cannabis, 9 addicts used opium, 145 used psychotropic pills, 1,443 used syabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride, 119 addicts used ecstasy/mdma, 225 used Amphetamine and codeine was used by 70 abusers. Trend and Type of drug Users Method of use Jan Dec 2008 Percentage (%) Chasing 9, % Smoke 1, % Swallow % Injection % Drink % Inhale % TOTAL 12, % Source; National Drug Information System 4. THE NATIONAL COORDINATING GOVERNMENT MACHINERY ON THE ERADICATION OF DRUGS In Malaysia, the current effort in prevention is designed to educate individuals on issues associated with drug use and problems associated with it. These programs are school, family and community-based. The programs focus on among them teaching or disseminating information on effective strategies in encountering risk factors, family dynamics, life skills training, leadership development and enhancement of self esteem. 3

4 The battle against drugs can only be won with consistent, sustainable and collaborative efforts involving all levels of society, be it the parents, children/youths, teachers, workers and the community as a whole. Realizing that to effectively tackle the drug problem of the country, a coordinated, concerted and multifaceted action needs to be initiated at the national level, to be supported by the state, districts, federal agencies and non-governmental organizations. In 2004, the Prime Minister s Number 1 Directive on a National Coordinating Government Machinery on the Eradication of Drugs was formulated and implemented in The Machinery which comprises the Cabinet Committee on the Eradication of Drugs is chaired by the Hon. Prime Minister. Under the Cabinet Committee there is an Action Committee and sub Committees. The aims of these committees are to oversee and review the implementation of the National Drug Control Strategy and to ensure effective implementation. There are three sub-committees that act as the working group and suggests new policies for implementation or reviews existing policies and makes recommendations and reports to the Action Committee. The Action Committee decides on the recommendations and reports to the Cabinet Committee on the decisions it has taken/made or it makes recommendations to the Cabinet Committee on the Eradication of Drugs for a final decision if it involves policy changes. The 3 Cabinet Sub-committee currently focuses on the core areas that are: i. Prevention Education and Publicity this Committee is chaired by the Minister of Education. 4

5 ii. iii. Laws the Law Enforcement Committee is chaired by the Minister in charge of Legislative Affairs. Treatment and Rehabilitation the Committee is chaired by the Minister of Health. These Committees are overseen by the National Drug Council which is headed by the Deputy Prime Minister. This system is replicated at the state level and reaches into the district level. By a directive issued by the Prime Minister in April 2007, Members of Parliament can chair meetings at the district level committees, and thus play an important role at the local community level to prevent drug abuse. With the structure of this machinery and functions of the various committee spelt out, NADA is entrusted with the responsibility of gearing or activating all relevant ministries who are members towards achieving the country s drug free status by Prevention education programs in Malaysia can be mobilized through these committees with collaborative and concerted efforts from the relevant ministries. 6. DEMAND REDUCTION PROGRAMS / PREVENTION EDUCATION PROGRAMS Prevention programs involve dissemination of information to the public. The programs are aimed at insulating members of society, especially youths, from falling prey to the drug scourge The activities carried out in 2008 fall into these broad categories: a) Advocacy and Information programs b) Community Mobilization programs 5

6 a) Advocacy and Information Programmers i) Mobile Drug Abuse Prevention Unit The mobile drug abuse prevention unit began operations in These units move throughout Peninsular Malaysia bringing awareness to the community on the drug problem and the strategies employed by the government. In the period from January to December 2008, more than 5,688 exhibitions were held in public areas, shopping complexes, stadiums attended by all sectors of the population including youths, students, workers and community. ii) Anti Drug Campaigns This program is continuously carried out every year. Most activities were implemented through the electronic media, print media, films/video clips as well as the holding of anti drug exhibitions. National leaders or politicians, religious leaders and experts in their respective fields of anti drug activities were invited to appear on television as well as national and state radio programs to discuss the drug menace faced by the nation and the role of the community in combating the drug problem. Since 2007 a new community focused mobilization program GEMPADAH (Community Blitz against Drugs) was launched by the National Anti Drugs Agency and it was very successful in involving communities in anti drug activities and able to attract all levels in society. It aims at mobilizing resources and organizations at the local level to deal with drug issues at the state or districts. Relevant government organizations and NGOs offered their co-operation, 6

7 commitment and efforts in making this program a success in the country. iii) Friends or Peers against Drugs - Rakan Anti Dadah (RADA) NADA introduced a new club-like project, Friends against Drugs for the youths (RADA), whether in the urban towns or rural areas of the country. It aims in enhancing life skills of this vulnerable group to be more resilient in saying no to drugs and youths can also be the ears and eyes of the community in protecting their environment from drugs and other drug related crimes. Membership drives are carried out in the country to entice youths to join the club whereby healthy lifestyle activities are formulated and implemented. As of December 2008, NADA has successfully registered 5,458 youths into this project. b) Community based Drug Prevention Programs These programs are targeted to specific core groups like parents and teachers associations, community and religious leaders or involve a whole community like settlers in a specific land scheme, a fishing community or a village. A variety of means are carried out for example, community events like community cooperation (gotong royong), talks, dialogues, forum, healthy lifestyle events, exhibitions and games / sports. It also involved NGOs/Community based organizations in the country. Many parliamentarians as community leaders actively supported and participated in these programs. More than 1,000 programs 7

8 were held in 2008 in all states. In addition more than 3000 talks, briefings, video and exhibitions were also carried out. 7. OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES WITH NON GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS, PRIVATE SECTORS AND MASS MEDIA Activities with non-governmental organizations are carried out on drug prevention activities, aftercare and in the social re-integration of addicts into society. Some of the organizations are PEMADAM that is involved with prevention, PENGASIH assisting addicts and HIV/AIDS infected addicts, PENDAMAI and Malaysian Care assisting addicts and recovering persons. Other community based organizations like the Neighborhood Committees, Village Development and Security Committees, Women's Organizations, Youth organizations also participate in drug prevention activities. In 2008 a total of 263 programs were held jointly with the various NGO s and private sectors involvement are through their support of national level anti-drug campaigns and particularly in supporting drug prevention programs in the workplaces and comunities. Private sectors participation has also been encouraged in the production of posters, leaflets and billboards promoting the anti drug messages. Media involvement in Malaysia has been through the participation of the Ministry of Information providing coverage for national and international conferences and events, launch of campaigns, television and radio talk shows. NGO s and the Private Sector are encouraged to jointly participate and organize activities under GEMPADAH (Community Blitz against Drugs) from Gempadah programs were carried out in

9 9. CONCLUSION The Government continues to improve its machinery to combat the drug problem in the country, a problem that is still considered a security threat. Malaysia believes that the only way to solve the drug problem is through multi-disciplinary approach and in partnership with all sectors of society in the country and by strengthening cooperation with its neighbor countries. It is only with concerted efforts through mobilizing the community in preventive education, treatment and rehabilitation, law enforcement and international cooperation that the country can achieve the objective of creating drug free societies worldwide. National Anti Drugs Agency Ministry of Home Affairs July

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