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Drug Treatment Officials Receive OAS Training

Bahamian officials over the past two days received specialised training in processing drug treatment patients.

Members from the Organisation of American States (OAS) facilitated the two-day seminar which included participants from Haiti, Jamaica, Belize and other Caribbean countries.

Bahamas Co-ordinator David Ramsey said the seminar allowed all the participants to be more efficient when it comes to processing patients.

“We have come together with the OAS to put together this data information seminar because it is important to keep proper statistics and a proper database,” he told the Bahama Journal yesterday.

“Bahamian participants came from local government offices and other organisations such as the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, Great Commission Ministries, Ministry of Health and other agencies. Over the two days, we had people who deal with drug treatment offenders look at a standardised form by which to process patients. Now people have been trained in data collection, how to ask questions and how to fill out these standardised forms.”

He said what will happen now is that when a patient goes from Sandilands to Great Commission Ministries, a form will follow and there will be no need to duplicate the information.

OAS Research Specialist Pernell Clarke added that the seminar was specifically devised for institutions involved in drug and alcohol treatment.

“The idea was to introduce a standardised data collection instrument so that we can have a clear picture of what is happening with people receiving treatment at the end of each year throughout the region,” he said.

“Couple years ago we found ourselves in a situation where we realised that we didn’t have a clear picture of this important population. If a country is responding to drugs as an issue, as most countries are doing, it is important to know what is happening with the people who are worst affected by substances. We want to fill that gap by creating a standardised form which has basic demographics, drug use history, criminal justice history and others so we could use the profiles throughout the region.”

Statistical indicators such as admission rates to treatment facilities and drug arrests prove that illegal drug use and abuse have increased in countries across The Caribbean since the 1990s.

“There must better cohesion in our drug control efforts to reduce the supply, to curb the demand, to disrupt the trafficking of drugs and ultimately promote healthy drug free life-styles,” State Minister for National Security Keith Bell said at day one of the seminar. “Here in The Bahamas, there is a need for improved networking between and among agencies engaged in drug treatment.”

The seminar is aimed at implementing a standardised data collection system for drug and alcohol treatment agencies in the Caribbean.

“As partners and stakeholders with OAS and CICAD, we share the responsibility to gather better data,” Minister Bell noted. “The executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the 2011 the World Drug Report noted that a lack of comprehensive data continues to obstruct our full understanding of the markets for illicit drugs.
“He points out that more comprehensive data collection allows for more and better analysis, which in turn enriches our responses to the world drug challenge. He went on to urge countries to strengthen their efforts to collect data on illicit drugs in order to strengthen our research and analysis, better understand the drug phenomenon and pinpoint areas where interventions are most likely to achieve positive results.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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