A women’s group campaigning against drug abuse has handed the government a petition urging President Abdulla Yameen to prioritise the Maldives’ drug crisis.
The Society for Women Against Drugs collected 359 signatures calling on the president to improve the quality of drug rehabilitation care, and to launch medical care for addicts suffering from withdrawal symptoms in police custody.
“Successive governments have attempted to address the problem of drugs, but they are not doing enough and we don’t see politicians prioritizing the issue,” said the group’s chairperson Fathimath Afiya after handing over the petition last week.
According to a 2012 UN report, there are 7,496 drug addicts in the Maldives. However, critics say the true figure is much higher.
Meanwhile, health advocacy groups have expressed concern over a high risk of HIV spreading among an unmonitored population of injecting drug users.
President Yameen in February acknowledged that changes were needed in the drug rehabilitation system, but the cabinet in March discussed mechanisms to decrease state expenditure on drug care centres.
Home Minister Umar Naseer last year pledged to prioritize drug trafficking and last month brought in a sniffer dog squad.