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7th ASCAD Opening Ceremony

THE 7TH ICCE-ASCAD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ADDICTION 10 OCTOBER 2016
 
THE HONOURABLE DATUK SERI IR. HAJI IDRIS BIN HAJI HARON
CHIEF MINISTER OF MELAKA
 
THE HONOURABLE DATUK WIRA HJ. OTHMAN BIN MUHAMAD
SPEAKER OF THE STATE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF MALACCA
 
THE HONOURABLE DATUK HAJI ISMAIL BIN HJ.OTHMAN
STATE EXECUTIVE COUNCILLOR MEMBER FOR URBAN WELLBEING,
HOUSING & LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF MELAKA  
 
DATO' DR. ABD HALIM BIN MOHD HUSSIN  DIRECTOR GENERAL,
NATIONAL ANTI-DRUGS AGENCY
 
MR.KINDLEY DORJI
SECRETARY GENERAL OF COLOMBO PLAN  
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,  
 
ASSALAMUALAIKUM WARAHMATULLAHI WABARAKATUH AND A VERY GOOD MORNING
 
I AM HONOURED AND PLEASED TO BE HERE TODAY TO OFFICIATE THE OPENING OF THIS 7TH ICCE-ASCAD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ADDICTION IN THIS HISTORICAL CITY OF MALACCA. MY THANKS AND GRATITUDE GOES TO THE HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER AND HIS TEAM FOR INVITING ME TO THIS CONFERENCE.  LET ME ALSO BID A WARM WELCOME TO ALL OF OUR INTERNATIONAL COLLEAGUES AND PARTICIPANTS TO MALAYSIA.  I HOPE YOU HAVE HAD A PLEASANT AND WONDERFUL STAY THUS FAR.  
 
LET ME TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CONGRATULATE THE STATE GOVERNMENT OF MALACCA FOR HOSTING THIS PRESTIGIOUS CONFERENCE IN COLLABORATION WITH THE COLOMBO PLAN INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR CREDENTIALING AND EDUCATION OF ADDICTION PROFESSIONALS OR THE ICCE AND THE NATIONAL ANTI-DRUGS AGENCY OF MALAYSIA.  
 
ALLOW ME TO ALSO CONVEY THE WARM WISHES FROM THE HONOURABLE DATO’ SERI DR. AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS, WHO DESPITE NOT BEING WITH US TODAY, EXTENDS HIS REGARDS TO EVERYONE PRESENT HERE. 
 
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
 
THE 7TH ICCE-ASCAD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IS A SIGN OF COMMITMENT OF THE HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER AND HIS ADMINISTRATION TO ADDRESS THE DRUG PROBLEM IN THE STATE, COUNTRY AND ACROSS THE GLOBE. HIS IDEA AND INITIATIVE TO ESTABLISH A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT OR PLATFORM KNOWN AS ASIAN CITIES AGAINST DRUGS OR ASCAD IN 2003 SHOULD BE COMMENDED.  
 
THROUGH ASCAD, I BELIEVE THAT THE BEST PRACTICES IN ADDRESSING THE DRUG PROBLEM ACROSS ASIAN CITIES CAN BE SHARED AND ADOPTED AMONG THE ASCAD MEMBERS. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ASCAD IS ALSO TIMELY AS WE REALIZE THAT MANY RISK FACTORS WHICH LEAD TO FUTURE DRUG USE AND PROBLEMS MOSTLY OCCUR IN THE CITIES. THESE RISK FACTORS INCLUDE POVERTY, LACK OF PARENTAL CARE, POOR HOUSING CONDITIONS, AND INCONDUCIVE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT, AMONG OTHERS. I BELIEVE THAT THROUGH THE SPECIAL SATELLITE MEETING OF ASIAN CITIES AGAINST DRUGS SCHEDULED DURING THIS CONFERENCE, FURTHER ELABORATION WILL TAKE PLACE AND NEW IDEAS AND INITIATIVES MAY EMERGE TO IMPROVE THE DRUG SITUATION WITHIN CITIES ACROSS ASIA.
 
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, 
 
THERE IS NOW AN INCREASING NUMBER OF PEOPLE REQUIRING TREATMENT FOR AMPHETAMINE TYPE STIMULANTS OR ATS USE, AS DEMAND FOR SUCH SYNTHETIC DRUGS IS INCREASING GLOBALLY AND IS SHOWING HIGH PREVALENCE IN ASIA. THE LIMITATION IS THAT WHILE THE NEED FOR ATS TREATMENT IS HIGH, THE EXPERTISE IN ATS USE DISORDERS IS NOT AS WELL DEVELOPED AS IT IS FOR OPIATES.  
 
ANOTHER GROWING CONCERN IS ALSO THE GROWING LIST OF THE NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES OR NPS, WHICH IS BEING PROMOTED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO CONTROLLED DRUGS. CURRENTLY, THERE ARE MORE THAN 500 ESTIMATED SUBSTANCES. THIS WILL POSE A SIGNIFICANT HEALTH THREAT TO PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS AND PLACE INCREASING DEMANDS ON HEALTH AND TREATMENT FACILITIES. WHILE ADDICTION IS RECOGNIZED AS A CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION, PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF ADDICTION IS GENERALLY NEGATIVE AND DRUG USERS ARE STIGMATIZED.  
 
DRUG PREVENTION PROGRAMS CONTINUES TO BE SEEN AS INEFFECTIVE, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT MANY CURRENT INTERVENTIONS ARE TARGET SPECIFIC AND ARE FOCUSED ON PERSONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL VULNERABILITIES OF THE YOUNG OR YOUTH AT RISK. ON THE OTHER HAND, ENFORCEMENT OR SUPPLY REDUCTION REMAINS EQUALLY IMPORTANT AND SHOULD BE BALANCED WITH DEMAND REDUCTION EFFORTS.  IN APRIL THIS YEAR, I PARTICIPATED IN THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION ON THE WORLD DRUG PROBLEM OR UNGASS 2016 IN NEW YORK. THE OUTCOME DOCUMENT WHICH WAS ADOPTED AND ITS LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS SHOULD SERVE AS THE BASIS IN OUTLINING THE WAY FORWARD, NOT ONLY FOR THE UNITED NATIONS MEMBER STATES BUT ALSO ASCAD MEMBERS IN PAVING THE WAY FORWARD TO ADDRESS DRUG PROBLEM IN EACH CITY AND AROUND THE GLOBE.
 
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, 
 
THE COLLABORATION AMONG EXISTING MEMBERS OF ASCAD MUST BE INTENSIFIED AND COORDINATED EFFICIENTLY. CITIES AND MUNICIPALITIES WHERE MOST DRUG PROBLEM ORIGINATES MUST TAKE SERIOUS MEASURES, PARTICULARLY IN URBAN AREAS AND THEIR SURROUNDINGS. LIKEWISE, THE CIVIL SOCIETY AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES MUST BE ENGAGED, EMPOWERED AND MOBILIZED. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT A WORKING COMMITTEE BE ESTABLISHED FOR THIS PURPOSE AND FOR IT TO BE IN OPERATION IMMEDIATELY AND CONTINUOUSLY.   IN MALAYSIA, SOME OF THE COMMUNITY BASED PREVENTIVE PROGRAMS BEING IMPLEMENTED ARE ANTI-DRUG VOLUNTEER PROGRAM KNOWN AS SKUAD 1MALAYSIA AND ALSO MYBEAUTIFUL MALAYSIA. IN THIS REGARD, CITY COUNCILS AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES MUST PLAY MORE ACTIVE ROLES TO REDUCE THE RISK FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO THE USE OF ILLICIT DRUGS. FURTHERMORE, THE PROVISION OF APPROPRIATE COMMUNITY-BASED TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION PROGRAMS IN COLLABORATION WITH RELEVANT STAKEHOLDERS WILL REDUCE THE RELAPSE CASES AND IMPROVE THE DEMAND REDUCTION EFFORTS. IN MALAYSIA, SOME EXAMPLES FOR THIS ARE CLIENT INTEGRATED CENTRES AND CURE & CARE SERVICE CENTRES OPERATED BY OUR NATIONAL ANTI-DRUGS AGENCY AS WELL AS CARING COMMUNITY HOUSES RUN BY OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES. THESE ARE JUST SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW ASIAN CITIES IN GENERAL AND ASCAD IN PARTICULAR MAY PLAY A PIVOTAL ROLE.
 
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,  LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, 
 
ONE OF THE AREAS THAT NEEDS TO BE STRENGTHENED IS THE CAPACITY OF OUR WORKFORCE, ESPECIALLY IN DEMAND REDUCTION. WE MUST TRAIN AND PROFESSIONALIZE OUR PREVENTION AND TREATMENT WORKFORCE SO AS TO IMPROVE OUR EFFORTS AND OUTCOMES IN DEMAND REDUCTION. WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF PREVENTION SCIENCE AND EVIDENCE-BASED TREATMENT,  ALONG WITH THE PROVISION OF PROPER TRAINING TO OUR WORKFORCE, THE QUALITY OF SERVICES PROVIDED TO THE HIGH-RISK GROUPS AND THE DRUG USERS CAN BE IMPROVED AND EXTENDED FURTHER. 
 
AS FOR MALAYSIA’S EXPERIENCE, POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMS FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSE HAS BEEN OFFERED AT TWO LOCAL UNIVERSITIES, NAMELY AT THE ISLAMIC SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF MALAYSIA AND UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA SABAH. APART FROM THAT, FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS, MALAYSIA THROUGH NADA HAS BEEN COLLABORATING WITH THE ICCE TO PROVIDE TRAINING AND CREDENTIALS TO OUR DEMAND REDUCTION WORKFORCE THROUGH THE UNIVERSAL TREATMENT AND PREVENTION CURRICULUM TRAINING SERIES.
THUS, THE COLLABORATION BETWEEN ASCAD AND ICCE AS WELL AS NADA IN ORGANIZING THIS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE WITH THE THEME OF “EVIDENCE-BASED INTERVENTIONS: SAVING LIVES, SAVING COSTS” IS IN TANDEM WITH ALL THAT I HAVE JUST MENTIONED. IT IS EXPECTED THAT THROUGH THIS CONFERENCE, THE AWARENESS AS WELL AS THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS AMONG THE DEMAND REDUCTION PROFESSIONALS IN MALAYSIA AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD CAN BE FURTHER ENHANCED AND ELEVATED TO A HIGHER LEVEL. THROUGH THIS MANNER, EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY AND INTERVENTIONS WILL BE ADOPTED AND IMPLEMENTED. FURTHERMORE, THE CONVENING OF ICCE CONSORTIUM OF UNIVERSITIES ON DRUG DEMAND REDUCTION DURING THIS CONFERENCE IS EXPECTED TO FACILITATE THE LIFELONG LEARNING, CREDENTIALING AND PROFESSIONALIZING OF DEMAND REDUCTION PROFESSIONALS IN MANY PLACES OF THE WORLD. 
 
I PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT THE THEME OF THIS CONFERENCE HAS BEEN WISELY SELECTED. ADOPTING EVIDENCE-BASED DRUG POLICY AND MEASURES AS WELL AS SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN PREVENTION AND TREATMENT INTERVENTIONS IS MUCH OF A CHALLENGE TO US AND STILL HAS A LONG WAY TO GO. MANY RESEARCH FINDINGS ARE STILL NOT TRANSLATED INTO POLICY AND PRACTICE. VERY OFTEN, WE KEEP REPEATING OURSELVES, FOLLOWING PAST PRACTICES EVEN IF THE OUTCOMES ARE DISCOURAGING AND AT TIMES TO NO AVAIL. UNLESS WE START TO CHANGE THE WAY WE DO THINGS, THE OUTCOME WILL PROVIDE NO DIFFERENCE AND THE SITUATION CONTINUES TO DETERIORATE. THROUGH THIS CONFERENCE, IT IS HOPED THAT THE GAP BETWEEN RESEARCH FINDINGS AND THE ACTUAL PRACTICES CAN BE MINIMIZED. IT IS A HUGE RESPONSIBILITY ON EACH ONE OF YOU - THE PARTICIPANTS OF THIS CONFERENCE, TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN UPON YOUR RETURN HOME.
 DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, 
ONCE AGAIN, I WOULD LIKE TO CONGRATULATE THE HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER AND HIS ADMINISTRATION FOR TAKING THE LEAD TO ESTABLISH ASCAD AND FOR ALSO HOSTING THE ASCAD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR THE SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE TIME. THE FACT THAT MALACCA, AS A STATE IN MALAYSIA, IS ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO GLOBAL EFFORTS IN ADDRESSING THE DRUG PROBLEM, IS A HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT AND TRULY ENCOURAGING. 
 
I SINCERELY URGE ASCAD THROUGH ITS SECRETARIAT, THE HISTORICAL MALACCA CITY COUNCIL, TO EXPAND ITS MEMBERSHIP TO MORE CITIES WITHIN ASIA. EXTENSIVE CAMPAIGN NEEDS TO BE PLANNED AND EXECUTED SO THAT MORE CITIES WITHIN ASIA ARE INTERESTED TO PARTICIPATE IN ASCAD AND CONTRIBUTE TO ITS SUCCESS. THE GOVERNMENT OF MALAYSIA THROUGH THE NATIONAL ANTI-DRUGS AGENCY AND OTHER RELATED AGENCIES WILL ALWAYS SUPPORT ANY EFFORTS THAT LEAD TO THE BETTERMENT OF THE DRUG SITUATION AT NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS.  
IN CONCLUSION, I AM CONFIDENT THAT THIS CONFERENCE CAN PROVIDE THE DIRECTION FOR ASIAN CITIES AND DEMAND REDUCTION PROFESSIONALS TO COLLECTIVELY ADDRESS THE MANY COMPLEX ISSUES SURROUNDING THE DRUG SITUATION IN OUR CITIES AND AROUND THE WORLD. I AM SURE THAT THROUGH THE SHARING OF EXPERIENCE AND STRONG COMMITMENT TO BE MADE DURING THE CONFERENCE, MANY ISSUES WOULD BE ADDRESSED AND IMPROVED FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR FUTURE GENERATION.  I WISH YOU ALL A FRUITFUL AND SUCCESSFUL CONFERENCE, AND AN ENJOYABLE STAY IN OUR COUNTRY. 
WITH THAT, I OFFICIALLY OPEN THIS CONFERENCE. THANK YOU.