Ten Million Dollars to Uzbekistan for Drug Prevention

A comprehensive and integrated drug demand reduction program for Central Asia is critical, especially now, because illegal drug use has devastating social and economic impacts. More than ten million US dollars will be spent to assist Uzbekistan only. Besides this, Tajikistan will also receive an assistance. US Ambassador to Uzbekistan Mr. John E. Herbst will participate in an opening ceremony to launch the US Government funded program administered through USAID on March,19 in Tashkent.

The program will be implemented by a consortium of partners including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, AIDS Foundation East-West, Population Services International, Center "Accord" and Internews. According to the press release of the US Embassy, the funds which US is going to spent to assist Uzbekistan come from a supplemental appropriation. The US Congress extended in response to Uzbekistan's support for the international war on terrorism. Through this new project, the US Government planned to help the governments of Central Asia to build on their existing programs on drug abuse and prevention, added press release.

The press release went on to say that the Central Asia is currently facing an alarming spread of drug-abuse. The situation calls for targeted and comprehensive preventive measures focusing on populations vulnerable to drugs such as youth, migrants, refugees, displaced persons, prisoners and sex workers. The key components of the Drug Demand Reduction program are to educate target groups to promote drug-free healthy lifestyles and to develop effective drug-prevention policies and strategies on the national and community levels.

According to the UN experts, 45-55 percent of the drugs produced in Afghanistan are trafficked via Central Asian Countries. The UN data says that 8 million people in the world use heroin, 13.3 million-cocaine, 141.2 million marijuana, 280 million-synthetic drugs. The annual turnover is estimated at more than $ 500 billion which equals 8% of the world trade turnover. By 2005, number of HIV cases only in CIS may reach 1.5-2 millions.

Aloke Shekhar Uzbekistan Special to PRAVDA.Ru