New UN report outlines resources available to tackle substance abuse
The United Nations today launched the first global report on the resources currently available to tackle alcohol and illicit drug use disorders, which affect millions of people worldwide and cause a range of other health problems.
The report – “The Atlas on substance abuse: Resources for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders” – has collected information from 147 countries, and has a particular focus on low- and middle-income countries.
“Alcohol and illicit drugs are harming millions of people in many ways, from becoming dependent on such substances to causing a range of other health problems, such as injuries, cardiovascular diseases, HIV and hepatitis C or cancers,” says Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization (WHO).
“WHO’s new Atlas on substance abuse lays out what resources exist today in different parts of the world to reduce this harm, and highlights critical gaps in service delivery which should be overcome,” he adds.
Among its findings is that many more people suffer from alcohol use disorders compared to drug use disorders, and both types are more common in men than women. Also, alcohol and illicit drug use account for 5.4 per cent of the world’s annual disease burden, with tobacco responsible for 3.7 per cent.
In some Eastern and Central European nations, up to 16 per cent of populations suffer from alcohol use disorders, compared to 10 per cent in some countries in the Americas and South-East Asia, and 13 per cent in some Western Pacific nations.
The report analyses issues such as levels of government funding, staffing, policies, legislation and information, detailing measures that meet health needs for people with substance use disorders, and highlighting gaps and challenges.
A shortage of resources is cited as one reason for the gaps by the report, which also notes that greater efforts are needed to collect data on treatment services to better plan such services. It also calls on governments to invest more resources and dedicate more staff to provide effective services to prevent and treat substance use disorders.
The report was launched during the International Seminar on Treatment Systems for Substance Use Disorders, a two-day meeting that began today in Valencia, Spain.