VIENNA, 7 April (United Nations Information Service) – On the occasion of World Health Day 2017, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) commends WHO’s year-long campaign “Depression: Let’s Talk”. The President of the INCB, Mr. Werner Sipp, said: “There are broad connections between this campaign and the availability of internationally controlled drugs, to make sure that the appropriate medicines and medical treatment are available for people in need. Just as the lack of training and awareness of health care professionals acts as a barrier to ensuring availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, in many countries there is also a lack of understanding about mental health and associated stigma.”
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) stresses that insufficient numbers of people are receiving the mental, neurological, and substance abuse treatment or medicines that can help in alleviating their conditions. Non-communicable diseases, including mental illnesses and associated depression, often require access to essential drugs and adequate health services. The international drug conventions promote the availability of those controlled substances, which can help in the treatment of mental health and other conditions, thereby fulfilling the mandate to protect the health and welfare of humankind. Insufficient or inadequate access to psychotropic substances is particularly pronounced in low- and middle-income countries, posing a major challenge to the treatment of mental illness.
From INCB’s past survey results, commonly cited impediments to the availability of psychotropic substances have included: lack of awareness/ training among health professionals, problems in sourcing from industry or imports, fear of addiction, and limited financial resources. Supporting governments to remove these obstacles requires reviewing specific local needs, including the prevalence of various mental health conditions and illnesses. Governments are therefore recommended to pay close attention to the supply of medicines, domestic practices relating to prescription patterns, regulatory requirements on supply chains, and the distribution channels.
President Werner Sipp said: “On this World Health Day, INCB would like to remind governments and people everywhere that medicines and treatment exist to help alleviate the suffering of people from mental illness, including depression. Now, it is the responsibility of governments and citizens everywhere to respect and care for all patients who have a mental illness, and provide them with – among other things – access to the controlled medicines and treatment they need.”