Two-year drug plan drawn up

The government said yesterday it will restructure the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) in a bid to make it more efficient and to better handle the country’s growing drug problem. Presenting the 2007-2009 plan, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that units offering drug-replacement therapy will be included at hospitals across the country in a bid to link them with the primary healthcare system. The plan includes 15 immediately applicable steps that ensure the right to therapy and slash waiting lists, according to the minister. There are currently 4,500 users waiting for therapy. The action plan will also involve offering higher training for professionals who come into contact with drug users, such as the police, prison wardens, doctors and nursing staff. Other steps include making OKANA more flexible, running a 1-million-euro marketing campaign aimed at preventing drug use and setting up more programs offering mental health support. «We are coordinating our country with the initiatives and trends taking place internationally,» said the minister. «We have set a two-year time frame in order to be able to assess the results immediately,» he added. According to industry experts, the number of drug-related deaths in Greece is rising by about 10 percent per year. The two-year plan will also focus on helping users take their place again in the community, added the minister. The Health and Agricultural ministries will joint-run farming programs where ex-users will be able to work on farms cultivating biological products. «This is an original and innovative plan that will contribute decisively to users professionally,» Avramopoulos highlighted.

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