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Sindh Health Department and PILL Unveil Comprehensive Policy to Combat Substance Misuse

HealthSindh Health Department and PILL Unveil Comprehensive Policy to Combat Substance Misuse
By: OUR CORRESPONDENT

KARACHI: Under the leadership of Prof Saad Khalid Niaz, Minister of Health, Social Welfare, and Public Health Engineering, and Rural Development Sindh, Health Department, Government of Sindh, in collaboration with Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL), Sindh Task Force on DDR & Substance Misuse, and University of Manchester, are set to introduce the Substance Misuse Prevention and Treatment Policy & Implementation Plan in a launch ceremony on December 9th, 2023. The event will take place at the Muin Auditorium, Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS). The guests of honour will include Mrs. Rana Hussain, Minister Education & Literacy, College Education, Brigadier (R) Haris Nawaz, Minister for Home & Prisons Department Sindh, Mr. Omer Soomro, Minister for Law.

Globally, substance misuse is a global public health concern. The socioeconomic costs associated with substance misuse necessitate comprehensive policies and strategic interventions. While Pakistan has established laws and policies supported by a legal framework and law enforcement agencies, systemic deficiencies persist, including resource allocation challenges, gaps in healthcare infrastructure, and limited access to quality addiction treatment services. The prevalence of substance misuse in Sindh, particularly in Karachi, has reached alarming levels, making the city the second globally with the highest number of drug consumers. This concerning situation demands urgent action to address the associated health, social, and economic challenges.

To tackle these challenges head-on, the Health Minister of Sindh, Prof Saad Khalid Niaz, has appointed a dedicated Task Force, reflecting a commitment to proactive and targeted measures. The Task Force, led by Prof Imran Bashir Chaudhry (Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning & Ziauddin Hospital), comprises representatives from the Department of Health (Directorate General Health Services, Sindh, Deputy Director General Health-NCDs, Deputy Director General Health-CDC), Sindh Education and Literacy Department, Sindh Universities and Boards Department, Sindh Police, Anti-Narcotics force, Sindh Mental Health Authority, Provincial Lead HIV Control Program, PPHI, Aga Khan University, PILL, and other governmental and non-governmental organisations. This proposed policy and implementation plan will explain the responsibilities and principles behind the health department’s approach to managing the misuse of illegal drugs, alcohol, and other substances.

Through evidence-based interventions, compassionate support, and collaborative partnerships, the Health Department is dedicated to reducing harm, enhancing access to treatment and recovery resources, and cultivating a stigma-free environment. This initiative outlines efforts to safeguard public health, promote public safety, and create a community where everyone can thrive.

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