A two day workshop on rational use of controlled medication commenced today. The workshop deals with abuse of controlled medication and ways to combat it. Samira Gongora, the acting technical advisor for the pharmacy unit at the Ministry of Health told us more about the workshop and drug abuse in Belize.
Samira Gongora: “We want to get the regional response of how they deal with controlled drug abuse especially in patients that are on Palliative care medication which mainly pains medication and those are narcotics and psychotropics. Those are prescription only medication so it has to be prescribed by a doctor and so we want to ensure access as well as ensuring that it doesn’t get into the illicit trade and that we don’t have abuse into our population. We want to ensure that we keep that happening and we don’t get any illicit trade. When it is not only for the treatment of the pain but they have to have it all the time and it is abused. Even though the pain is being managed they still have to get it or if it is a person that does not even have a condition that requires the narcotics and psychotropics but getting the medication and getting that feeling euphoria from it then we know that they are abused. It is not as wide scale like we see in the U.S. with phentanils right now but we hope that it doesn’t get there so we are trying as much as possible, that is why we have a variety of people in there from Customs and Police so all of them do their part in ensuring that it stays that way, that we have control in place and also affording access to the people that really need it. With the misuse of drugs they are guided by that in terms of selling only by a prescription and it is only by a narcotic prescription that is being sold and not just to anybody that comes in and says we want it, we need it and that kind of thing so during that we keep on allowing it to be controlled in that way. The Ministry of Health has taken steps and we at the Pharmacy unit are online with ASECUDA and every medication that is being imported from any importer has to come through the Pharmacy Department at the Ministry of Health so we have that kind of control even if it is from DHL or FEDEX we give the approval for it to come in.
Gongora also spoke to us about the signs to look out for to know if one of your loved ones is abusing controlled drugs.
Samira Gongora: “There are signs, they are agitated, they need to have it whenever the peak levels fall and they have to have it. They do whatever they can to get it, they act nervous and agitated, sweating that kind of thing, look out for it, like an addict. In line with the Misuse of Drug Act, there is the National Drug Abuse Control Council that offers psychological and medical help. There is also some rehabilitation homes that they can attend, that they can access this help so that they can recover. We hope to get technical support from the U.N.O.D.C. in terms of getting legislation off the ground especially with the C.D.B., the Cannabinoid Derivative that we are seeing now. We hope to get legislation so that we can manage the importation of those types of drugs because sometimes the controlled drug is being altered somehow to get it in so we want to make sure we close all those doors in terms of getting them in the country.”
The workshop will continue tomorrow.///////////