Scientific Anti-dote

The one day consultation on “Reducing drug demand for HIV prevention” to be held today at Hotel Japfu, Kohima could not have come at a more appropriate time when the threat posed by HIV/AIDS is taking its toll on the health and vitality of society especially of the younger population. That the indiscriminate abuse of drugs is a perennial problem that adds on to the HIV/AIDS menace therefore only goes to highlight the seriousness of the issue and developing the right approach to reduce drug demand in a manner that is sustainable and workable in the local context therefore requires urgent attention.

The devastating consequences of drug abuse such as the adverse effects on health; an upsurge in crime, violence; the draining of human resources that might otherwise be used for social and economic development; the destruction of individuals, families and communities, all this makes it absolutely vital to intervene and design the right strategy that is effective and result oriented. Reducing drug demand for HIV prevention therefore should be seen as an important component in the overall strategy to address the problem of HIV/AIDS. It is hoped that the Centre for Advocacy and Research, which is initiating the consultation, will be able to provide, through its study and research, an effective and sustainable tool that addresses the core of the problem while coming out with an intervention program that is scientific, up to date and designed to be applicable to the local milieu.

Designing a comprehensive intervention program for the State should be the immediate concern of policy makers in the government, NGOs and other agencies working in the area of reducing drug demand. To do this, a simple yet detailed macro level plan of action should be the first step to address the complexity of the problem. As a starter, the problem has to be first understood. This means taking up the basic issues upfront and foremost. In a general sense, one of the failure of program implementation is that many a times, policy makers do not choose to get their basics right. As a result, a particular program may end up in further compounding the problem or getting lost in the complexity of the problem itself and losing track of it all. To avoid such a scenario, it is advisable that only after a thorough study of research and reliable data collection, one should attempt in addressing the problem. This will be cost effective as well as result oriented. It therefore goes without saying that for intervention in the critical area of HIV prevention to produce a positive impact, a bottom up step by step approach is required. 

Likewise, taking a systems approach should be seriously explored as it allows one to look at a problem in a holistic manner. An intervention program can be designed focusing on the core problem while understanding its relationship with the other components as one of interdependence. The basis of the method therefore demands that any problem has to be viewed and approached in a wholesome way. For a drug reduction program therefore, it as important to address the issue of policing as it should likewise focus on the source of the drug. Similarly, a drug reduction program should correspondingly have a supply reduction strategy built into the overall intervention program. Similarly, the cause and effect of other related issues related to drug use must be clearly noted with credible data and studies and made a visible component of the overall strategy. For program design, the right inputs must go in to maximize results.