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National Anti-Drug Strategy

Minister for Health and Human Services, The Hon. Anthony S. Eden, OBE, JP

Statement by the Minister for Health and Human Services, The Hon. Anthony S. Eden, OBE, JP

The National Anti-Drug Strategy 2009-2013 Press Conference, Friday, 17 April 2009

Today's press briefing is one that I have awaited eagerly; after many many hours of work, I am pleased to announce that Cabinet has approved, and the National Drug Council is now ready to present, a National Anti-Drug Strategy for 2009 to 2013, which offers a comprehensive approach to drug control for the Cayman Islands.

I will say just a few words of introduction, and then hand the press conference over to the Executive Director of the National Drug Council, Mrs. Joan West-Dacres, who will discuss the key elements of the Strategy.

As you may be aware, the National Drug Council functions as determined by Law in an oversight and advisory capacity. Its task is to monitor and evaluate the whole spectrum of anti-drug activity in the Cayman Islands, in order to make recommendations to the Government on the development of policy, programmes and legislation.

Because the primary aim of the current Government is to improve the quality of life for all persons in these Islands, we have been very pleased to see the progress made by the National Drug Council in fulfilling its mandate.

We know that a healthy community is one that is vibrant, productive and creative in maintaining its well-being. Such a community takes care of all its members, including the elderly, youth, handicapped; all of whom may be vulnerable in a variety of ways to the impact of drug misuse and abuse.

We are all aware that the misuse of drugs and other substances is not only a problem that affects the abuser, but also impacts every aspect of society and economy, including health care, family life, law enforcement, employment, and the list goes on. As a Government we need to do whatever we can to protect the people of the Cayman Islands from the abuse of legal and illegal substances.

As a Ministry, our strategic goals call for making human development a top priority of the country through strengthening families and communities, improving wellness and preventative approaches and enhancing civil partnerships.

The dynamic framework of the National Anti-Drug Strategy recognises and provides a platform to enact these strategic goals. It therefore enables us to better come to grips with these challenges and make actual improvements not only in public health, but also in the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Therefore it is absolutely critical that there is a national commitment to comprehensively address and prevent issues related to drug control in these islands. The National Anti-Drug Strategy represents this commitment. It is the blueprint for the Cayman Islands' response to the misuse and abuse of both illicit and legal drugs, including alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs.

A national strategy is necessary to facilitate a joint effort between the Government, the private sector and civil society to address the social problems caused by drug misuse and abuse.

With implementation of the National Anti-Drug Strategy, therefore, we aim to significantly reduce the prevalence of drug use amongst the Cayman Islands population, thereby minimizing the social harm and damage to the well-being of society.

More specifically, the strategy seeks to prevent illicit drug use; effectively treat those with dependencies on these drugs; and combat the demand for, as well as the availability and distribution of illicit drugs on and within all three Islands.

The Strategy will facilitate this by strengthening the Council's role in developing drug policies, both in treatment and interdiction, and calls for these efforts to be supported by targeted research and the monitoring and evaluation of drug interdiction and treatment programmes. Without sound empirical research, we will not be able to fully understand the real drug situation in the Cayman Islands.

For example, the work of stakeholders in this process now enables us to identify where funds are allocated for anti-drug abuse efforts across the public sector - to which agencies and in what amounts.

This will facilitate these agencies working in a more cost-effective and coordinated manner, as well as enable the Government to better determine the allocation of resources in a way that balances supply reduction and demand reduction efforts.

Although the fight against substance abuse is far from over, I am confident that through the National Anti-Drug Strategy 2009-2013, and with broad-based community support, we will one day realise our vision of a society that is free from drugs, alcohol and other substance misuse.

I whole-heartedly congratulate the Board Members, and other stakeholders, National Drug Council employees, as well as the volunteers who have worked diligently and contributed to bring us to this point. I am aware that this is the first of a series of steps in the process of improving our effectiveness in this area and I wish the Council great success.

God Bless.

Opening Remarks from NDC Executive Director Joan West-Dacres

On October 8th and 9th 2008 The National Drug Council (NDC) in Conjunction with the Honourable Anthony S. Eden, OBE, JP, Minister for Health and Human Services hosted the 2008 National Anti-Drug Strategic Planning Meeting, where we presented a draft of the National Anti-Drug Strategy for The Cayman Islands 2009-2013. The draft of the National Anti-Drug Strategy for the Cayman Islands is a strategic framework to address the unique drug control needs of the Cayman Islands in both demand and supply reduction.

On April 14th 2009 Cabinet approved A Comprehensive Plan for Drug Control - The National Anti-Drug Strategy 2009-2013. The ultimate aim of the strategy is to significantly reduce the prevalence of substance abuse and misuse amongst the Cayman population and to minimise the social harm and health damages it causes in the society.

The development of such an important document will assist the Cayman Islands in setting out the Government and its stake holder's commitment to addressing the issues related to substance abuse and misuse in the Cayman Islands in a co-ordinated, efficient and effective manner. This Five-Year Strategy summarizes national policies and recommends the strategies in the national interest, to combat the drug problem.

Drug abuse and illicit trafficking are worldwide phenomenon and a rapidly changing social and economic climate, coupled with increased availability; accessibility and acceptability have contributed to the increasing magnitude of Cayman's substance abuse problems. There has been an increase in social and economic factors which make people, especially the young more vulnerable and likely to engage in substance use and drug-related risk taking behaviour.

The broad consultative approach which we have taken in the development of this document seeks to ensure that the most comprehensive tools for addressing the national drug situation have been considered and articulated.

The NDC through ongoing annual strategic meetings and stakeholder contacts, continued to be made aware of the need for a more coordinated, proactive and intergrated approach to the issues of drug control.

It is essential for coordination to occur and for effective and sound financial spending in regards to matters of a National Anti-Drug Plan and we are excited about the revilatization of a National Strategy.

It is with this I share the National Anti-Drug Strategy 2009-2013 with you. (Available under 'Features' on the home page of this website.)

Presentation of National Anti-Drug Strategy 2009-2013

by NDC Executive Director Joan West-Dacres

Over the past ten (10) years the National Drug Council (NDC) has had oversight of the National Anti-Drug Strategic process and the revision of the National Anti-Drug Strategy (NADS). This mandate arose out of the Cayman Islands National Strategic Plan for Drug Abuse Prevention and Rehabilitation. The original plan approved by the Government of the Cayman Islands was for the period of 1995-1999.

The NDC has assessed for the period of 1995 to present, the level of achievements of the activities set out in the former Strategy (1995-1999). Although the original Strategy was not fully implemented it did provide an important framework for drug related activities at a national level and a strong incentive for those involved, to implement them.

The final assessment noted improved cooperation between national providers and a clearer awareness of the need to take preventive actions starting from an early age. However, highlighted in this assessment and contributing to the incompletion of implementation was:

  • a need for further research into the consequences of drug use and addiction,
  • improved implementation (improvement of the implementation process) at the national level and
  • further development of a holistic, integrated and balanced approach for future national drug control initiatives.

The national anti-drug strategy meetings held September (20th and 21st) 2007 demonstrated a clear need for a Policy that would be essential in providing an enhanced strategic and coordinated approach to the continued problems associated with substance use, abuse and misuse in our society.

Taking into consideration the ongoing issues of substance abuse, misuse, the social and economic impacts, utilising a broader approach in order to formulate a National Anti-Drug Strategy is now timely. Two features of the drug problem in the Cayman Islands can be established in spite of deficient data:

  • quantitative indicators of drug use in the Cayman Islands are significantly increasing; and
  • there is a notable underutilization of the institutional care infrastructure organized to handle the drug problem.

The NDC through a consultative process with key stakeholders and guidance from an external consultant has formulated A Comprehensive Approach to Drug Control, the National Anti-Drug Strategy (2009-2013). This National Anti-Drug Strategy for the Cayman Islands takes into consideration all substance abuse related issues facing the three islands - Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The ability to include the drug control needs for all three Islands was ensured through applying a broad consultative approach. The National Anti-Drug Strategy is a comprehensive document that will provide strategic direction for the development of programmes, allocation of funds, and a means to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the plan and the effectiveness of the programmes developed to address the drug issues throughout the Cayman Islands.

The primary aims of the Strategy are to:

  1. significantly reduce the prevalence of drug use among the Cayman Islands population and
  2. to reduce the social harm and health damage it causes in the society.

It addresses both illegal (marijuana, cocaine) and legal substances (alcohol and tobacco). To this end it seeks to accomplish the following three general objectives:

  • preventing illicit drug use;
  • treating those with drug dependencies;
  • and combating the availability and distribution of illicit drugs on and within the islands.

At the October 2008 National Anti-Drug Strategic Planning Meeting a draft of the National Anti-Drug Strategy for The Cayman Islands 2009-2013 was presented. Representatives of the following agencies as well as concerned individuals attended and participated in the further development of the draft document: Department of Counselling Services, Cayman Islands AIDS Foundation, Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Community Rehabilitation, Employee Assistance Programme, Her Majesty's Prisons, HMS Customs, Judiciary, Ministry Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture, Employment Services Centre, Youth Services Unit, Ministry of Health and Human Services, Empowerment and Development Unit, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, D.A.R.E., CASA (Cayman Against Substance Abuse), Cayman Islands Cancer Society, CAYS Foundation (Children and Youth Services), Minister's Association, University College of the Cayman Islands, and Pharmacy Council.

This meeting provided the NDC with the opportunity to further develop the document which was presented to the Minister of Health and Human Services, the Honourable Mr. Anthony Eden to be taken to Cabinet.

In view of addressing the issues related to substance abuse and misuse, the strategy bears in mind a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach while considering the issues from both the area of demand reduction and supply reduction.

This approach integrates the following:

Demand reduction (treatment and rehabilitation, prevention and information-gathering and dissemination) - The plan seeks to reduce the demand for drugs and desired outputs include:

  • Evidence-based prevention programmes
  • Introduction of best practices (or minimum standards to guide treatment, prevention, rehabilitation and harm-reduction efforts)
  • Improve access to treatment
  • Public awareness and information (campaigns)
  • Enhance data collection, analysis and reporting which will allow for programmes to be developed based on a documented and reliable needs assessment such as new addiction or prevention programmes.

Supply reduction (law enforcement, interdiction and international control) - to improve interdiction and supply reduction efforts desired outputs include:

  • Optimize border control

  • Widened and improved cooperation among law enforcement bodies on a local, regional and international cooperation
  • Establish legislative changes and/or improved legislation in the field of drugs.

Legislative, policy and institutional development (strategic direction and partnership with numerous national level stakeholders and civil society)- to strengthen the policy/legislative frameworks which help govern drug control whilst improving and increasing capacity within organizations on levels including community partnerships, private sector involvement and civil society commitments.

  • Improve legislation as it relates to trafficking, money laundering, substance abuse and misuse etc.
  • Improve cooperation and collaboration at a local, regional and international level

Many activities are currently provided for within existing organizations. However, the lack of policy and strategic direction has made the Cayman Islands response to the issues related to drug control in some cases duplicated and in others fragmented and uncoordinated.

This is further evidenced by two problems:

  1. Failure to secure services that are sorely needed, and
  2. The overall impact is ill-defined (unclear)

There are existing objectives within the mandate of many of the stakeholders that allow for immediate action in implementation of actions; which will in the first year require little or no additional funding such as the review of legislation, development of best practices and improved collaborative efforts to name a few.

The broad strategies contained in the document can be built upon, which is a crucial element for long term planning and sustainability.

The seven broad Strategies/Priorities are as follows:

  • Strategy I: To strengthen and assist families and communities affected by drug abuse.
  • Strategy II: To provide a national policy framework for the delivery of a comprehensive drug education programme.
  • Strategy III: To guarantee the delivery of treatment and rehabilitation services that meets the needs of the individual.
  • Strategy IV: To support the supply reduction efforts of law enforcement and interdiction agencies.
  • Strategy V: To develop a culture and practice of data collection and dissemination in relation to substance abuse.
  • Strategy VI: Provide clear indications about the merit and worth of current actions and activities at the local level.
  • Strategy VII: Encourage multi-agency cooperation and the involvement of civil society and the private sector and the international community.

The Sister Islands Strategies are as follows:

  • Strategy - to strengthen and protect our families and communities from the ill effects of drug abuse.
  • Strategy - to provide a youth anti-drug campaign that promotes healthy lifestyle alternatives.
  • Strategy - to provide a national policy framework for the delivery of a comprehensive anti-drug education programme.
  • Strategy - to coordinate the delivery of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services that meet specific needs of the individual.
  • Strategy - to coordinate supply reduction efforts with respect to all controlled substances in our islands.
  • Strategy - to continuously monitor and maintain a database of information on drug abuse in the islands.

This comprehensive approach will ensure the achievement of the strategic aims and will for concrete results in terms of reduced supply and demand of drugs. To develop the comprehensive nature of the strategy, however, it is necessary to work out an Action Plan that will link the National Anti-Drug Strategy with other key national reforms and strategies relevant to countermeasures against drugs demand and supply.

An Action Plan will be developed for the National Anti-Drug Strategy, containing concrete measures, deadlines and assigning responsibility to institutions. The implementation of the National Anti-Drug Strategy and the Action Plan will be funded by the national budget and other sources.

The development of an Action Plan will:

  • Aim at facilitating coordination between national responses to drug use and to drug availability, in particular to demand reduction and supply reduction.
  • Like the Master Plan, the Action Plan provides a framework for a balanced approach to reducing both supply and demand through a number of specific actions.
    • It also covers a number of cross-cutting themes: international cooperation, research, information and evaluation.

  • The Action Plan will contain a distribution of responsibilities and schedules for their implementation. Clear and measurable indicators will be identified for each action proposed, to enable proper evaluation.

The implementation of the plan means that we will be able to prioritise drug control efforts and ensure that the identified and proposed actions are taking place through a system of monitoring and evaluating. It also allows for accountability of the work.

The plan embraces

Accountability:

  • The National Strategy presents the indicators of success for all cases, through which achievement of the objectives can be examined. In embracing the principle of accountability, we need to ensure that within the plan what we are measuring is, "going to bear good fruit."
  • We must recognise that the impact from the implementation of this plan will only be realised after long-term planning. Though there will be incremental changes that occur along the way as a result of the plan, the overall and true picture of its impact will only be understood after a review of the five-year process.

Balance:

  • The "BALANCE" between actions that bring about a decrease in the supply/availability of drugs (law enforcement and interdiction) and the demand for drugs (prevention, treatment and rehabilitation).
  • The plan will capture this notion of balance because we recognise that in addition to decreasing availability through policing, we must also endeavor to make persons feel un-committed to using drugs.

Integration:

  • Integration is a much needed approach that brings government, non government, corporate sector and civil society together. This is in recognition, that the issues related to substance abuse and misuse are to be addressed as a community and cannot be addressed by one agency or one sector alone.

Management & Coordination (M&C):

  • If we are going to engender a spirit of cooperation we must have proper management and coordination. One of the greatest weaknesses at this time is a lack of management and coordination of drug control. This approved plan by Cabinet provides a method for prioritization of actions and for allocation of funds associated with those actions spread out over the duration of the plan.

Cooperation:

  • Partnerships at the local, regional and international level involvement are of essence if in fact we are using a comprehensive approach.

This need to have a single, unified and strategic response to the drug problem is well highlighted in this strategy and attempts to create a good balance between activities that bring about a decrease in the availability of drugs (law enforcement and interdiction) and the demand for drugs (prevention, treatment and rehabilitation). The end result is a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to a complex psycho-bio-social and economic problem. There is no doubt that substance abuse and illicit trafficking are and must be perceived as, a real threat to the country's sustainable development.

The NDC will bear responsibility for the overall implementation, co-ordination and monitoring and evaluation of the National Anti-Drug Strategy 2009-2013. Coordinating the implementation of this strategy allows for effective monitoring and evaluation, and this process will provide a mechanism for ensuring that the Plan is implemented in a successful manner as well as provide a means to identify the benefits of the programmes funded in the national interest.

The annual meetings will continue as a REVIEW and UPDATE of the NATIONAL ANTI-DRUG STRATEGY with the NDC to establish a clear reporting process to the Ministry for Cabinet.

However, the NDC will meet on a regular basis throughout the year with stakeholders in order to continuously monitor the implementation of the strategy.

We thank the Honourable Minister of Health and Human Services, Mr. Anthony Eden, OBE, JP and other Members of Cabinet for their support and commitment to the Anti Drug efforts of the Cayman Islands.

For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan