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    UNIS/NAR/1338
    28 November 2017

    INCB Learning project kicks off regional training for Oceania in Sydney

    VIENNA/SYDNEY, 28 November (UN Information Service) - The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has started its three-day training seminar for national authorities in Oceania responsible for implementing the international drug control conventions. The seminar is part of the INCB Learning project and is hosted at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Officials from Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are taking part.

    During the training seminar, participants will build their knowledge of the international drug control framework and the technical reporting obligations of the conventions related to narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals.

    Speaking at the opening of the seminar, Board member Professor Richard Mattick highlighted the importance of ratification of the three drug control treaties among the countries of Oceania, the region of the world where the largest number of countries yet to adhere to the treaties is found: "Treaty compliance and effective reporting to INCB help prevent the diversion of and trafficking in internationally controlled substances, the abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances while allowing for their sufficient availability for medical and scientific purposes."

    The essential work of national drug control authorities for the health and welfare of populations was stressed by the Head of the Office of Drug Control at theDepartment of Health of Australia, Bill Turner, who joined the opening session. The Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Professor Michael Farrell, welcomed the participants on behalf of the University of New South Wales.

    With initiatives such as INCB Learning, the Board supports Member States in fulfilling the commitment they made at the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem last year: to improve adequate access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes.

    The medical use of opioid analgesics remains low in some small island States in Oceania, which are the focus of this training. Strengthening Governments' capacity to adequately assess their requirements of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes is key to ensure that medicines containing such substances are sufficiently available to patients in need, including in remote areas.

    According to the INCB Availability Report, the main obstacles to the availability of pain relief medications and psychotropic substances worldwide include the lack of training and awareness, fear of drug dependence and limited financial resources. Its findings and recommendations will be discussed by Professor Mattick in a dedicated session of the seminar later this week.

    The INCB Learning project was launched in 2016 as a global initiative to assist governments in the regulatory control and monitoring of the licit trade in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals. Training seminars were held last year for countries in East Africa, South and East Asia and the Pacific regions, and for European countries earlier this year. Other INCB Learning activities include the production of e-learning modules on the requirements of the drug conventions for use by governments. A training workshop for States members of the Central American Integration System will take place in Guatemala City in December 2017.

    INCB Learning has benefitted from the support of the Governments of Australia, France and the United States. To continue and expand these activities, INCB Learning depends on further contributions by Member States.

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    The Vienna-based Board is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, mandated to monitor and support governments' compliance with the three international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years.

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    For further information, please contact:

    INCB Secretariat
    Telephone for media inquiries: (+43-1) 26060 4163
    Email: secretariat[at]incb.org
    Website: www.incb.org