Jamaican Government Launches Initiative To Support HIV-Positive People, Substance Users, Assault Survivors
Jamaica's National Council on Drug Abuse is partnering with local faith-based and nongovernmental organizations to establish 10 clinics across the island that will support substance users, people living with HIV/AIDS, and survivors of trauma and violence, Michael Tucker, NCDA executive director, said on Tuesday at the launch of the program in Kingston, Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer reports.
Tucker said the project, called the Community Clinic and Services for Substance Abusers and Family, aims to "operate a comprehensive intervention program for children, adolescents and their families at the community level." The program seeks to teach life skills to youth and parenting skills to young parents, he said. It also aims to train NGO and faith-based group counselors to strengthen their services, according to Tucker. The National Health Fund has provided $11.8 million to help implement the program, which is expected to operate through 2010. About 5,000 people annually are expected to benefit from the services, according to the Observer.
Tucker said that the "rationale for the intervention comes from observation of risk behaviors, as whether it is drug use, violence and aggression, sexual promiscuity and HIV, all these behaviors or most of them share common contributing factors." Health Minister Ruddy Spencer on Tuesday said the project represents a new element of the country's substance-abuse strategy. He said that the link between drug abuse and high-risk behaviors has a significant impact on the public health system in Jamaica, adding, "It is clear that a successful substance use and abuse prevention and treatment program would have a positive impact on cross-cutting areas such as crime, violence and HIV/AIDS." The most recent data available show that about 187,000 Jamaicans use various illegal drugs, but only 500 people are treated in existing residential settings annually (Lewis, Jamaica Observer, 1/30).