Without drug observatories in the Caribbean to collect and analyse data and to disseminate information on drug use and drug trafficking, hemispheric efforts will just be a shot in the dark, says US Deputy Chief of Mission Terry Steers-Gonzalez.
“If we are to make headway in this endeavour, we must put drug observatories in as many places as possible,” he said.
A national drugs observatory is a body that provides a country with factual, objective and comparable information on drugs and drug addiction and their consequences.
Addressing representatives of 13 CARICOM countries taking part in the two-day Regional Seminar for National Drug Observatories in the Caribbean at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel, Providence, Steers-Gonzalez said the US Government will continue to support drug observatories around the world.
Through the US Government’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, he said, the US support for drug observatories in the Caribbean include the implementation of 15 drug use surveys in secondary schools since 2015 and provided technical and financial support for data collection, analysis and reporting.
The support also includes rapid situation assessments on drugs in three countries in the past two years, and national and regional training workshops for national observatories and drug information networks.
Future efforts of drug observatories, he said, will address the use and flow of opioids in the hemisphere. Though opioids have been problematic mainly in North America, he noted that its use has been spreading to Latin America and it poses a potential threat to the Caribbean.
In his remarks, the local Organization of American States (OAS) representative Jean-Ricot Dormeus said that experts from the countries represented will among their objectives prepare a research agenda for the coming two-year period on drugs and drug-related issues.
Noting that the use and trafficking of drugs fuel crime and violence, destroys youths, corrupts civil servants and politicians, and derails economies, Dormeus said, the meeting should pave the way for crafting policies to counter such threats.
The meeting was organised by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the OAS with support from the European Union’s 9th European Development Fund co-operation programme.