The annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2013 was successfully launched on 4 March at a special event organized by the UNIC Moscow at its premises. Taking part in it were 35 representatives of local expert community, Government officials and the media.
After a brief introduction, Vladimir Ibragimov, Head of Moscow office of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), offered an outline of the current situation in the world concerning illicit drug production and trafficking. According to him, Afghanistan, which remains the centre of illicit cultivation of opium poppy and the growing producer of cannabis, increased by 39 per cent, its drug production, as compared to the previous year. “In case of American troops withdrawal, we risk an even bigger growth of drug production”, Mr. Ibragimov warned. He then emphasized the need for the enforcement of border and sea ports control as a means of suppressing the illegal drug traffic, and noted his Agency’s call for tougher measures against money laundering.
The INCB Report 2013 was presented by Dr. Galina Korchagina, vice-president of INCB (and Director for Research at the Russian National Research Centre for Addiction). She started by outlining the structure of the Report, before turning to the document’s key topic – the economic effect of drug abuse. All in all, she offered a detailed and well-substantiated tour d’horizon of all the issues involved, such as public health costs, threat to public security and crime growth, labour productivity decline, ecological damages and the threat to specific population groups such as children, women and people with low income.
After this presentation, Dr. Evgenia Koshkina, Director of the Russian National Research Centre for Addiction, offered most recent statistics concerning the amount of drug users in Russia, frequency of HIV cases and the main causes of death among drug users.
In order to amplify the main message of the Report – the heavy economic burden that the drug abuse places on societies – the floor was given to Mrs. Larissa Popovich, Director of the Institute of Public Health Economy under the Moscow Higher School of Economics. She expanded on the issue of severe economic toll claimed by drug abuse, and said that drug-related net losses in Russia amounted to some 1.4 per cent of its GDP.
However, according to the speaker, the economic efficiency of the investment in drug user’s treatment and prevention was very impressive (what resonates well with the findings of the INCB document, arguing that every dollar spent on drug abuse prevention could save governments up to ten dollars in treatment-related costs). Mrs. Popovich stressed the need to mobilize public attention around this subject.
After the presentations, the floor was open for discussion, which addressed, among other things, the issues of de-criminalization of the drug use in some countries, the problem of abuse of drug prescriptions, the availability of analgesics and some other topics.
The launch was well covered by the media.