Thailand has received a valuable tool to implement a more health-oriented drug policy: The S3 Practice Guideline Methamphetamine-related Disorders, translated from German into Thai, was handed over in Bangkok on the 6th of August 2019. The document describes successful medical-therapeutic treatment concepts and offers professionals a guideline for taking care of people who use methamphetamine.
Thailand has received a valuable tool to implement a more health-oriented drug policy: The S3 Practice Guideline Methamphetamine-related Disorders, translated from German into Thai, was handed over in Bangkok on the 6th of August 2019. The document describes successful medical-therapeutic treatment concepts and offers professionals a guideline for taking care of people who use methamphetamine. The Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (GPDPD) had commissioned on behalf of BMZ the translation of the guideline, which is already in use in Germany. Now an expert exchange took place in Thailand, co-organised by the GPDPD, during which the document was officially handed over.
In the presence of doctors and high-ranking experts from the health sector, Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Braunwarth, addiction medicine physician at an Erlangen clinic, presented the guideline to the Secretary General, Niyom Termsrisuk of the Thai drug control authority ONCB (Office of the Narcotics Control Board) on behalf of the GPDPD. Subsequently, two doctors and a social worker from Germany, who were involved in the drafting of the S3 Guideline, presented selected focal chapters in a two-day workshop. These included recommendations for diagnosis and treatment planning, forms of acute therapy and the detection of co-occurring psychological and organic diseases among people who use methamphetamine.
Increased focus on health-oriented drug policy in Thailand
The handover represents a continuation of the long and successful German-Thai cooperation in drug policy. Since the 1980s, projects in the field of Alternative Development have been implemented jointly. In recent years, the partner countries have also been cooperating on public health issues in drug policy. A major challenge in Thailand is the problematic consumption of amphetamines, the spread of which has increased sharply in recent years. Therefore, following the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) in 2016, the Thai government showed great interest in finding a holistic solution to the domestic drug problem that goes beyond repressive approaches. The country is now undergoing a reform process in order to focus its national drug policy more strongly on public health approaches.
Against this background, Thailand is very interested in exchanging experiences with other countries. The GPDPD has already co-organised two expert missions to Bangkok together with the ONCB, where experts from German addiction medicine and low-threshold addiction care shared their knowledge and experience in the field of prevention, treatment and Harm Reduction. During the first exchange, Thailand expressed the wish to have the German S3 Guideline available in Thai.
S3 Guideline puts health as priority
In Germany, evidence-based medical treatment concepts for patients with methamphetamine-related disorders were not available until 2016. The S3 Guideline is the first document to go beyond individual case studies and field reports and gives structured and concrete recommendations.
The translation of the guideline made possible by the GPDPD has many advantages: Not only does it strengthen international knowledge transfer and bilateral cooperation, but people who use drugs in both countries will also benefit. Instead of treating people who use drugs as criminals, the guideline recognises drug dependence as a chronic disease and Harm Reduction as a health-oriented treatment approach. The S3 Guideline therefore provides a tool for implementing drug policies that focus on people.