World Health Day 2023

VIENNA, 7 April 2023 - On the occasion of World Health Day 2023, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is highlighting the importance of ensuring adequate availability of internationally controlled drugs for medical purposes and evidence-based drug use prevention and treatment services.

World Health Day 2023 also marks the 75th anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO). INCB congratulates WHO on this milestone and is a proud partner of the organization in supporting Member States in implementing the three drug control conventions, the ultimate goal of which is to safeguard health and welfare.

INCB and WHO cooperate closely towards improving the availability of and access to internationally controlled narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes. In its recently published special report, " No Patient Left Behind: progress in ensuring adequate access to internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes", INCB assessed what is being done to improve access to controlled medicines, including during emergency situations.

The data presented in the report confirm the persistent disparities between regions in the consumption of opioid analgesics for the treatment of pain and the consumption of several psychotropic substances for the treatment of mental and neurological conditions and substance use disorders.
Major impediments reported by Governments are related to sourcing and affordability issues while civil society organizations confirmed the relevance of training of health professionals, at the same time highlighting the limited access for patients in rural or remote areas.

Several positive developments were also reported, including administrative or regulatory changes which had a positive impact on availability, changes related to cancer treatment and palliative care and the introduction of electronic measures to facilitate prescription and procurement.

One of the recommendations made in the report is for countries to use the service- or morbidity-based methods to estimate their needs for controlled substances, as set out in the INCB and WHO Guide on Estimating Requirements for Substances under International Control. To ensure access to controlled medicines in emergency situations, INCB is reminding governments about the possibility of applying simplified control procedures for the import and export of controlled substances.

The drug control conventions require States parties to take all practicable measures for the prevention of non-medical drug use and the early identification, treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation and social reintegration of people affected by drug use disorders. The 2022 INCB Annual Report included a global issue on promoting equality and non-discrimination towards people who use drugs and in the access to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. INCB stresses that in the design and implementation of national drug control policies, States must adopt approaches that are fully consistent with internationally recognized human rights standards, including equality of treatment and protection against discrimination. INCB will continue to provide support to Member States in these areas which is essential to meet Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and wellbeing.

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