UN anti-narcotics chief calls on Russia to improve drug treatment following deadly fire

11 December 2006

The chief United Nations anti-narcotics officer today called on the Russian authorities to improve drug prevention and treatment in order to cope with an epidemic of drug abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS through drug injection, due in large part to a boom in opium production in Afghanistan.

In a message of condolences to the Russian people over the deaths of 45 people, mostly young women, in a fire that swept through a drug treatment clinic in Moscow on Saturday, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa noted that women in drug treatment are often marginalized by society.

“The death of these women is a real tragedy,” he said in a message from Jordan, where he is attending a conference. “They had the courage to try to escape the hell of drug abuse but were unable to escape this inferno.” He called for a full investigation into the cause of the blaze.

Women’s stigmatization is even greater if they have contracted HIV through drug use and Mr. Costa reiterated the importance of States’ ensuring that the human rights of drug users are respected, urging all societies to ensure non-discriminatory drug prevention and treatment facilities so all vulnerable people get the care they deserve.

UNODC is the lead agency within the UNAIDS system, UNAIDS, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, supporting comprehensive approaches to HIV prevention and care among injecting drug users. In prisons, the agency helps to implement international instruments, norms and standards which ensure that all inmates receive health care, including HIV and AIDS treatment.

 

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