The Thai government invited a delegation of German addiction experts to a three-day knowledge exchange event.
The consumption of methamphetamines, mostly in the form of tablets, has increased sharply in Thailand. In the wake of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), the Thai government has committed itself to a more health-oriented approach in drug policy. The focus is on the assumption that people who use drugs are patients – and not criminals. Building on this, harm reduction offers are also to be created. Existing offers, such as methadone substitution, are to be expanded.
Germany has more than 30 years of experience in harm reduction approaches. In order to learn from successful programmes and policies, the Thai government invited a delegation of German addiction experts to a three-day knowledge exchange event. In a workshop, about 60 employees of the Thai national drug control authority, ONCB, and other government representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior learned about German harm reduction programmes. In addition to the development of effective and safe systems for collecting relevant health data, the presentations included information about syringe exchange programmes, low-threshold counselling services and drug consumption rooms. An addiction specialist presented types of medical services such as substitution therapy and special programmes for pregnant women using methamphetamine. These approaches were again introduced to an audience of nearly 800 participants in an ASEAN-wide consultation on evidence-based drug policy.
The participants showed great interest and the presentations were followed by lively discussions. Thai government representatives strongly encouraged the continuation of the exchange in order to benefit further from the German experience.