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Executive Director of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), Mr. Michael Tucker, has cited strong support from several stakeholders, in its efforts to curb substance abuse in Jamaica.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, at the agency’s Half-Way Tree Road head office last week, Mr. Tucker pointed out that the NCDA has worked with several agencies, inclusive of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to deliver counselling interventions at the community level.
“We have partnered with them, given them some institutional strengthening, spent money, and honed their skills in counselling substance abuse (addicts). On the ground, itself, we have a number of groups that we actually work with, where we have been able to infuse aspects of our programme into what they are doing already. So, you have the youth clubs, Neighbourhood Watch groups, the Social Development Commission (SDC) network that we have done some cross-pollination or fertilisation, in terms of training their outreach officers,” he informed.
Regarding what he described as the “social services network,” the Executive Director said agencies, such as the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), individuals, such as social workers, and various educational institutions have partnered with the NCDA, to achieve the desired impact of the intervention programme.
“At the Council, as part of our Board of Management, we also have 16 agencies represented, such as the trade unions, health professionals, the Church, schools, National Security, and Finance,” he noted.
Mr. Tucker also informed of the NCDA’s strategic plan, which he explained would focus on priority areas for substance abuse prevention and treatment over the next five years.
“We (NCDA) realise that government faces a lot of challenges and, often, when you are faced with everything being a priority, you have to pick, choose and refuse the areas of focus. But there are some things that have to be dealt with. Crime and violence has to be dealt with, as also issues of substance abuse,” Mr. Tucker contended.