News / Asia

UN Survey Finds 6 Million Pakistani Drug Users

A drug addict leans on a wall after injecting himself with a dose of heroin on a street in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2012.A drug addict leans on a wall after injecting himself with a dose of heroin on a street in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2012.
x
A drug addict leans on a wall after injecting himself with a dose of heroin on a street in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2012.
A drug addict leans on a wall after injecting himself with a dose of heroin on a street in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ayaz Gul
— Pakistan’s first comprehensive survey on drug use, conducted with the help of the U.N.’s anti-narcotics agency, reveals that a substantial portion of the country’s population suffers from the devastating consequences of substance use. 

U.N. officials say the extensive survey of drug use in Pakistan is the first of its kind in south and west Asia, and provides a baseline for the government to plan effective polices to deal with the growing problem.

The research estimates that nearly six percent - or 6.4 million adult Pakistanis - used drugs in the last 12 months. It says cannabis, or marijuana, is the most commonly consumed drug in the country, with four million people users. 

Moreover, the report says opium and heroin are used by almost one percent of drug users in Pakistan, and a majority of them are in provinces that border Afghanistan.

Jeremy Douglas, country director for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, hailed the survey as a significant step forward in Pakistan’s anti-drug efforts.

“Now we can speak with some authority about how many drug users - in, say, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or Baluchistan vis-a-vis Punjab - we can say what types of drugs people [are] using, how they [are] using them, and then we can come up with health-based interventions for the population. So it is really a big milestone for the government,” he said.

Douglas says provincial health and education officials need to address the drug issue if they want to make effective use of the survey findings.

“Because at the moment they don’t offer any drug treatment, provincial governments, and because they run the hospitals and the health networks, if there is going to be any success on the health side they have to do it," he said. "And same on education: provinces run education, so they have to pick up and start [to] use provincial campaigns for their schools to educate children not to get into drugs.”

Neighboring Afghanistan produces an estimated two-thirds of the world’s supply of illicit opiates, and more than 45 percent of it is trafficked to international markets through Pakistan every year.  Local officials blame the illegal trade for the increased levels of opium and heroin use in Pakistan.

The U.N.'s Jeremy Douglas says the international community needs to boost support for Pakistan to better equip and train its counter-narcotics forces to curtail drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan. But he says improving coordination among national law-enforcing institutions is even more vital.

"At the moment there is a lot of effort taking place but it is modest effort often, and it is disconnected effort. So if the efforts can be enhanced across the board, then probably there would be a very positive impact on the society,” said Douglas.

The U.N.-sponsored survey estimates that more than 400,000 Pakistanis are injecting drugs, making that population considerably more vulnerable to HIV and other blood-borne diseases.  The report also shows an “alarmingly high prevalence in non-medical use of prescription drugs nationwide, particularly among women.”

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid