Facilitating Timely Supply of and Access to Controlled Drugs

During Emergency Situations 

VIENNA, 23 March 2021 - The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) concluded a two-day online Expert Group Meeting on Facilitating Timely Supply of and Access to Controlled Drugs during Emergency Situations.

The online meeting provided an opportunity for various stakeholders, including countries supplying and receiving controlled substances during emergency situations, humanitarian organizations (ICRC and MSF) and the United Nations (UNICEF, UNODC and WHO), to share their experiences and perspectives in the application of the simplified control measures. Through providing a platform for such an exchange, the meeting aimed at identifying possible areas for improvement at the national, subnational and international levels.

Attended by 45 experts from 22 competent national authorities and five international organizations, the online meeting underlined the role of simplified control measures in facilitating the availability of controlled substances during various emergency situations, including those caused by natural disasters, man-made conflicts and pandemics like COVID-19. Enabling the exchange of perspectives from both supplying and receiving countries, it also underscored several important elements in the application of simplified control measures at times of emergency.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Zukiswa Zingela, member of the International Narcotics Control Board and Chair of the Working Group on Availability of Controlled Substances during Emergency Situations, highlighted the timeliness of the discussion, "it is precisely because COVID affects us all at the same time, over such a protracted period, that it serves to remind us that in today's interconnected world, emergency of this kind might not be far, it can hit us anytime and no one can be spared", and emphasized the need for the global community to work together in ensuring the availability of controlled substances during emergency situations, including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While most experts agreed on the growing importance of controlled substances in the face of emergency situations, given an increasing number of protracted emergencies around the globe, different perspectives on the application of simplified control measures at times of emergency warranted further attention and called for the provision and adoption of relevant practical recommendations.

INCB calls for further collaboration among the international community in its endeavour to facilitate timely access to controlled substances during emergency situations, and will continue working with competent national authorities, relevant international organizations and humanitarian partners on practical recommendations in this regard. 

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