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Prevention and reduction of risks associated with drug dependence
The aim of this Recommendation is to help achieve the second objective of the European Union Drugs Strategy (2000-2004), namely to attain a substantial reduction over five years of the incidence of drug-related health damage (such as HIV, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis) and the number of drug-related deaths.
Council Recommendation 2003/488/EC of 18 June 2003 on the prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug dependence [Official Journal L 165 of 3.07.2003].
This Recommendation encourages Member States to set as a public health objective the prevention of drug dependence and the reduction of related risks. It also envisages the following measures to reduce substantially the incidence of drug-related health damage (such as HIV, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis) and the number of drug-related deaths:
- information and counselling for drug users, their families and the public;
- methods based on outreach work (local level, contact with specific target groups) as part of national drug policies;
- encouraging the involvement of peers and volunteers in outreach work;
- promoting professional networking;
- providing comprehensive substitution treatment (adequate psychosocial care, detoxification);
- preventing diversion of substitution substances;
- access for drug abusers in prison to services similar to those provided to drug abusers not in prison, in a way that does not compromise the continuous and overall efforts to keep drugs out of prison;
- promoting vaccination against hepatitis B and prophylactic measures against HIV, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as screening for all these diseases;
- provision of appropriate access to the distribution of condoms, needles and syringes and to exchange centres;
- provision of emergency services to deal with overdoses;
- organisation of appropriate integration between primary health care (including mental health care) and social care and specialised approaches in risk reduction;
- support for training and accreditation for risk reduction professionals.
The Recommendation also proposes the development of appropriate evaluation based on:
- using scientific evidence of effectiveness as the main basis for selecting the type of intervention;
- the inclusion of needs assessments at the initial stage of any programme;
- developing and implementing adequate evaluation protocols for all programmes;
- establishing and implementing quality evaluation criteria, taking into account the Recommendations of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA);
- organising data collection and information dissemination according to the EMCDDA recommendations through the REITOX national focal points;
- the use of evaluation results to develop more effective policies;
- setting up evaluation training programmes;
- introducing innovative methods involving all actors and stakeholders;
- encouraging the exchange of skills, experience, programme results, etc. within the European Union and with the candidate countries.
The Council asks the Member States to report to the Commission on the implementation of this Recommendation within two years of its adoption.
It calls on the Commission to cooperate with the relevant international organisations (World Health Organisation, United Nations International Drug Control Programme, Pompidou Group, Council of Europe) in line with the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2000-2004), and to prepare a report, with the technical support of the EMCDDA, with a view to revising and updating this Recommendation.
Endorsed by the Helsinki European Council in December 19999, the European Union Drugs Strategy (2000-2004) included three main targets:
- to reduce significantly over five years the prevalence of drug use, as well as new recruitment to it;
- to reduce substantially over five years the incidence of drug-related health damage (HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis) and the number of drug-related deaths;
- to increase substantially the number of successfully treated addicts.
The EU Drugs Strategy gave rise to the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2000-2004), implemented in May 1999, one of the aims of which was to strengthen cooperation at national and European levels. The parallel Community Framework for Action in the field of Public Health (2003-2008), adopted in September 2002, includes the development of strategies to implement measures in this field.
The present resolution was adopted as part of the follow-up to these various texts and to contribute to achieving the targets of the EU Drugs Strategy.