Anti-Narcotics Force Pakistan (ANF), Tobacco Control Directorate, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination and World Health Organisation (WHO) Pakistan succeeded today on crafting a novel model of joint efforts by all the three agencies towards protection of the society from the menace of drugs and tobacco use. Till now, Drugs and Narcotics control has stayed de-linked to tobacco control or smoking, while smoking is a major precursor for drugs use.
The focus of this understanding which was signed by all the three organizations will be to control, regulate and discourage drugs and tobacco use collectively through extensive demand reduction strategies including awareness campaigns, strengthening regulatory mechanisms and developing sub-national infra-structure for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and smokers through all Regional Directorates of ANF and District Tobacco Control Cells of 13 major districts across the country.
Maj. Gen Muhammad Arif Malik, Director General ANF highly appreciated all the efforts by the WHO country office in supporting the control of epidemics of Corona Virus, Polio and other fatal illnesses in the country. He lauded the WHO Country Head Dr. Palitha Mahipala for extending all out support for this joint venture, terming it a historical event for the country.
As drug addiction has been declared a “health issue,” the commitment and interest of WHO Country representative of support for rehabilitation of drug addicts is a very noble step, said Gen. Arif Malik. According to the memo of understanding signed by all three agency heads, the Model Drug treatment and Rehab Centres with ANF will be upgraded in consultation with WHO experts to offer tobacco cessation services, in near future.
WHO Country Head Dr. Palitha Mahipala assured the Federal Government of all-out support for the cause of tobacco control by WHO Country office and congratulated ANF & M/O NHSR&C on creating a unique model towards a Drugs-free, tobacco-free Society. He said that he considers Pakistan as his own country and is very much keen to be of assistance in every public health issue of Pakistan.
According to Tobacco Smoke Free Cities’ Project Director Dr. Minhaj us Siraj, M/O NHSR&C has developed sub-national tobacco control leadership in the District Governments of 13 major districts from Islamabad to Karachi in a very short span of time and their innovative approaches have started to leave a strong footprint in the community.
He sincerely hoped that the Anti-Narcotics Force and Directorate of Tobacco Control will become a leading trendsetter for the region in drugs and tobacco control with technical assistance from the World Health Organisation Country office.
Dr. Siraj also highlighted the need to register a team of volunteers for the cause among the youths of the country.
Tobacco Smoke-free Cities’ Project and ANF Academy will conduct training of the master trainers and staff of Anti-narcotics force on laws and their implementation mechanisms for drugs and tobacco control along with supporting research on Tobacco Control related topics.
This will generate indigenous data and mechanisms to influence policymakers to make informed decisions for uprooting both the evils of our society i.e. Narcotic Drugs and tobacco use.
The Headquarters and Directorate General ANF was declared a “Tobacco Smoke free Zone” by Mr. Ghulam Qadir Thebo (PSP), Deputy DG ANF. He said that all Regional Directorates of ANF across the country will follow the smoke free policy in a couple of months’ time.