YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The "Primary Drug Prevention Program" (PDPP) was launched this week by UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative Lise Grande and the Minister of Education and Science Sergo Yeritsian. The project’s objective is to prevent illicit drug use in Armenia by raising awareness of drugs and HIV/AIDS-related issues among policemen–teachers–and community groups–as well as to accurately measure the real scope of the problem among young people in Armenia by using standard European methods. Local methods of drug prevention will be developed accordingly within the existing legislative framework.
Drug abuse in Armenia is on the rise–and young people are especially affected. A study conducted in Yerevan in 2000 revealed that 15.5% of the surveyed young people have had experience of drug use; about 19% of those have used drugs intravenously. Armenia has acceded to several international conventions on drugs including the Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) and the UN Convention Against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988). Significant steps were taken by the Government of Armenia and the international community to reduce drug trafficking and abuse in Armenia. A current major initiative is the Southern Caucasus Anti-Drug (SCAD) Program focusing on the prevention of drug trafficking; however–there is no program which specifically targets the youth.
It is anticipated that as a result of the UNDP project–the level of drug abuse among young people in Armenia will be reduced. Special training modules for school personnel and police officers will be developed–as well as training sessions for peer education. A youth club will also be established to facilitate drug prevention in the community and to foster the local response to drug abuse.
Grande noted that the primary value of this project is that it is directed at drug use prevention. "We are confident that primary drug use prevention activities can be as important as activities focusing on care–treatment–and rehabilitation of drug addicts. We believe that this project will contribute to the sustainable development of Armenia and safeguarding of healthy lifestyles among young people," she said. The project–with a budget of $216,029 generously provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)–will be implemented in the Southern Syunik region of Armenia and is scheduled to last until December 2004.