This was the conclusion of the panel “What social and health care do we need?” after analyzing the situation of the boys, girls, and adolescents in vulnerable situations, drug users of the urban outskirts and of people deprived of their liberty. The discussion was developed this afternoon during the 10thNational conference on Drug Policy, organized by Intercambios Civil Association in the National Senate“.
(Buenos Aires, 6/7/12; 5:00 pm) The need to focus on social health care the problems related to drugs, the lack of coordination with other sectors, the outstanding debt to childcare and the people that have been deprived of their privacy with problematic consumption and the necessity to audit health care institutions were a couple of topics discussed in the panel. “What health care do we need?”, in the 10th National Conference on Drug Policy, that took place June 7th in the Salon Azul of the National Senate.
The panelists were Marta Monclús Masó, of the National Procurators Office, Virginia Sansone, Public Defender of Minors and the Mentally Incapacitated at Criminal Oral Courts in the City of Buenos Aires, Patricia Pinto, Operator of the Harm Reduction Program for the Municipality of San Martin and Carina Stehlik, director of the Addictions Plan for the province of Mendoza, with the moderation of Hugo Cohen, advisor on Mental Health for South America from the Pan-American Health Organization.
Care in prisons
In the Campaign 15 Ideas for a New Drug Law, point 13 proposes “Facilitate the access to unrestricted health care for those deprived of their freedom of privacy with problematic consumption of drugs”. On this issue, Marta Monclús Masó, director of the Federal Prison Observatory of the National Procurator’s office explained: “The central problem that we have with the care directed at the problematic use of drugs in federal prisons is that there are no diagnostics. We do not know how many people consume or what consumption there is in the prisons”.
A report from the United Nations pointed out for the region, that the prisons have the ability to spread treatment for drugs to 2% of the prison population. The same report estimated that 45% of the incarcerated population has problems with consumption. “From this, they add that the requirements to be able to be in a rehabilitation center are very severe. In the year 2009 only 5 detainees completed treatment, just 4% of the total that started the treatment. 50% did not continue because they were expelled”
Also, Monclús Masó called to revise the scale of punishment against the named “mules”, which are mostly women of poor countries: “The truth is that for these women the only contact with the criminal justice system is deterrence, they would not need to be incarcerated. The incarceration of these groups produces more harm than it prevents. They are very vulnerable people”,she said.
Boys, Girls, Adolescents
“The Mental Health Law has still not entered the judiciary”, said Virginia Sansone, Public Defender of Minors and the Mentally Incapacitated at Criminal Oral Courts in the City of Buenos Aires, who focuses on the situation of boys, girls, and adolescents in conflict with the criminal law. “Most have gone through relationship with substances” she said.
In reference to point 9 of the Campaign, which proposes to prioritize outpatient treatment and alternative devices to hospital, Sansone was categorical: “For a 16 year old boy that is detained for a crime and has consumption problems, the truth is that few respect the rights established by the Mental Health Law. The first option is always internment”.
The defender provided numbers: “Of the underage youth incarcerated in the city of Buenos Aires, 10% are charged with the marketing of drugs. The rest are considered for consumption. Paradoxically they are punished, removed from the streets and put away”. What are the results? Of the 650 boys with who need help, only 35 are in treatment and of those, only 3% reach the second phase of treatment.
Health care Areas
Patricia Pinto is the operator of the Harm Reduction Program for the municipalty of San Martin, province of Buenos Aires, and member of the Argentina network for the Rights and Assistance of Drug Users (RADAUD). As operator and user she pointed out, “In the health system the drug users are not recognized as users with rights, they are rejected and stigmatized. They are sanctioned with crime and are punished”.
She then explained that the distinction of St. Martin is that this program called drug users to work in health teams. “It’s important to take into account our experience and to ensure that we are involved in the planning, management and evaluation of policies for our population.”
Finally, Pinto read a RADAUD statement saying that, “criminalization creates discrimination. It is necessary to debate the narcotics law, to reverse the burden of proof, and to decriminalize cultivation”.
A provincial addictions plan
“Creating a National Program of Comprehensive Care for Drug Users” proposes the idea 8 of the Campaign 15 Ideas for a New Drug Law”. To analyze what requirements and challenges are posed by comprehensive plans, Carina Stehlik, director of the Addiction Plan of the province of Mendoza, presented the experience of its jurisdiction, where the Plan is part of the area of Mental Health.
With nine centers of Addictions Care in the province, the official referred to the obstacles: “We must rethink the contradictions in the diversity of looks, logical, and attitudes of professionals working with these issues, because they are contradictory or unsubstantiated” she said. In addition, she emphasized that there are “specific situations that require particular responses and we need to rework our response methods: the complexity of dual pathology, chronic patients, women, teens.”
To conclude, the moderator of the panel, Hugo Cohen, noted that “depression and alcohol are the two mental health problems most common in the region. There is a failure to update health professionals, who are therefore not trained to address these issues. “
Intercambios Civil Association is a key organization in Latin America on issues of harm reduction and drug policy. It develops policy advocacy, research and training with the objective of influencing government and multilateral drug policies. It organized the I, II and III Latin American Conference on Drug Policy (Buenos Aires 2009, Rio de Janeiro 2010, Mexico 2011); coordinated in the region the discussion of civil society on the goals set by the Special Session of the Assembly of Nations United on Drugs (UNGASS) and has organized nine National Conferences of Drug Policy. Its publications include: “Latin America: Debate on Drugs” (2011), “Imprisonment due to Crimes Related to Drugs in Argentina” (2011), Contributions to a New Drug Policy (2010) and “Knowledge and Practice on Drugs: The Case of Cocaine Base “(2007).
Intercambios Asociación Civil: +54 11 4954 7272
Eva Amorín: (011) 15 4401 4630 / Horacio Torres: (011) 15 6794 6315
TWITTER: @Intercambios_AC #15ideasLeyDrogas / FB: http://www.facebook.com/15ideasLeyDrogas
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