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The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) has increased public awareness of the negative consequences of drug abuse, through its improved education programme as well as a number of other initiatives.
As contained in the Council’s report for the financial year ending March 2002, which was recently tabled in the House of Representatives, the NCDA has targeted schools and other organizations through its public education initiatives.
In addition to a cadre of persons who have been trained as educators in drug abuse prevention, teachers and guidance counsellors have been trained as part of the Prevention Education Programme, which is implemented jointly with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture.
Meanwhile, presentations on drug abuse and its consequences were made in various educational institutions, churches, youth clubs and other community organizations, while public fora were conducted to discuss the findings of the Ganja Commission regarding the decriminalization of the drug.
As set out in the report, exhibitions were mounted for civic groups, schools, and service clubs, while more than 1,000 persons used the information centre at the Council’s Secretariat during the period under review.
A survey of the level of drug abuse in the island was undertaken with a contract awarded to Hope Enterprise, a research organization, to conduct a rapid assessment survey on behalf of the Council. Some 5,000 questionnaires were finalized and some have been administered in Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine.
The Council continues to work with the 14 parish Drug Awareness Committees and 30 community Drug Awareness Committees to implement drug awareness and prevention initiatives. The Ministry of Health has also supported a programme targeting nine inner city communities that have high levels of drug abuse.The National Council on Drug Abuse is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Health and its board policy functions are coordinated through a Cabinet sub-committee and a Board of Directors.
As defined in the 1991 National Council on Drug Abuse Act, the Council is mandated to: review and monitor conditions in the country with respect to drugs which are being or which appear likely to be misused with harmful effects sufficient to continue a social problem; recommend to the Prime Minister measures, which should be taken to prevent the misuse of such drugs or social problems connected with the misuse of such drugs; and consider and advise on matters referred to it concerning drug use and abuse.