Health Minister Robin Swann has attended a UK Drugs Summit in Glasgow to consider and discuss what more can be done collectively at a UK level to form a better understanding of the issues surrounding drugs including drug-related deaths.
The conference enabled the Minister to share experience from a NI perspective and to learn from other administrations.
The Minister said: “This summit has provided the opportunity for us all to learn from the international evidence and to learn from each other. We must work collaboratively to address the increasing issue we are all seeing in relation to the harms caused by substance misuse.
“We are in the process of developing a new substance misuse strategy and this will present us with a real opportunity to make a difference and take innovative approaches to addressing this societal issue.
“I am already working with other Ministers and Departments to find ways to effectively address the underlying causes of substance use, such as poverty, homelessness, loneliness and mental wellbeing. It is only by working holistically across all these issues that we will truly create the conditions to help prevent alcohol and drug related deaths.”
Chief Medical Officer, Michael McBride said: “I believe today is an important building block and I welcome the opportunity to open conversations on the type of innovative approaches we might consider in the future. I hope this is the starting point of a new collaborative and joined-up approach.”
In conclusion, the Minister said: “I look forward to all four UK countries working closer together in the future to address such issues. For my part I will also continue to work closely with my counterpart in the Republic of Ireland. The societal impact of drug misuse recognises no boundaries or borders and our response needs to be similarly coordinated.”