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.
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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs