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Jun 10, 2019

More Controls needed for Controlled Drugs

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime opened a two-day workshop today to discuss how to improve the regulation of controlled drugs by strengthening legislation, institute regulations and implement quality assurance systems to promote the rational use of these medicines. The aim is to ensure that controlled drugs are being used according to their accepted medical use and safety profile to safeguard the public against any potential for abuse and misuse. Today, we stopped in for the opening of the event to find out more. Here’s the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is hosting a two day workshop in Belize City to look at how to improve access to controlled medicines while preventing abuse and misuse.


Melva Ramirez

Melva Ramirez, Coordinator Drug Demand Reduction Projects, UNODC-ROPAN

“There are very special medicines because sometimes they are controlled drugs. So, we are in country on this occasion to have a workshop so that we can develop the capacity building of health professionals and also other institutions, for example, universities, that want to know more about this kind of controlled substance and how they can use it for the benefit of the patients. There are many patients who have problems with pain and we as health care professionals need to know how to take care of these situations with our patients.”


So, this event brings together personnel from a number of agencies who may come in contact with pain medication; from customs to police officers to pharmacists. The goal is to get a regional perspective on how to deal with these controlled drugs and ensure that Belize has the right controls but also give access to those with prescription.


Samira Gongora

Samira Gongora, Acting Technical Adviser of Pharmacy Unit, Ministry of Health

“We want to get the regional response of how they deal with controlled drug abuse, especially with people who are in palliative care medication, which is mainly pain medication; those are narcotics and psychotropic and those are prescription only medication. So, it has to be prescribed by a doctor. We want to ensure access and it doesn’t get into the illicit trade and we have abuse in our population.”


The misuse and abuse of controlled drugs have seen resurgence in the United States. While there are no statistics available to paint a bigger picture of this problem in Belize – Samira Gongora says that there are persons who do misuse and abuse pain medication. Addicts are often nervous and agitated. They would do anything to get access because they can’t go without the drugs.


Samira Gongora

“When it is not only for the treatment of the pain but they have to have it all the time. Even though the pain is being managed and they have to have it or if there are persons who may not even have a condition that require the narcotics and sarcotropics but having the medication and getting that euphoria from it and then we know that they are being abused.”


There are a number of measures and legislation in place to prevent the misuse and abuse of controlled drugs. The Misuse of Drug Act is one piece of legislation that guides the sale of these controlled drugs by way of a narcotic’s prescription. The importation of controlled drugs also goes for approval through the Ministry of Health’s Pharmacy Unit. Gongora says this partnership with UNODC will help to strengthen more control.


Samira Gongora

“We hope to get technical support from UNODC to get legislation off the ground especially with the CDB – the Cannabinoid derivatives that we are seeing now. We hope to get legislation to manage the importation of those types of drugs because sometimes the controlled drug is being altered somehow to get it in. So, we want to ensure that we close all those doors in terms of getting them in country.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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