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Jamaica launches Early Warning System on Drugs

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Friday, February 02, 2023: The Ministry of Health & Wellness, along with local stakeholders and international partners, today launched Jamaica’s Early Warning System on Drugs, a multidisciplinary network to support public health and security efforts to address the threat of substance use, particularly with respect of new psychoactive substances.

The launch event, which was hosted at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, comes as Caribbean nations and countries the world over contend with the onslaught of a rapidly changing drug market.

New psychoactive substances, such as molly/ecstasy and psylocibin mushrooms, have become a global phenomenon, with more than 100 countries and territories from all regions reporting the presence of one or more such substances in their population.

“Today’s launch represents a significant push to formalise drug policy and frameworks needed to combat the public health and social harms associated with illicit drug use. It is our aim to adequately support efforts to deliver early warnings on changes in the changing drug problem and developing rapid, effective responses while minimising risks as we look to secure the health of our nation and those most at risk,” noted Mr. Dunstan Bryan, Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health & Wellness.

The PS was speaking on behalf of Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, the Minister of Health & Wellness.

Sate Minister in the Ministry of National Security, the Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, said through this new early warning system, agencies will be better able to monitor and respond to the drug challenge.

“The early warning system will give us, along with our various stakeholders, the capacity to deliver alerts on changes in the drug situation; and develop rapid, effective responses. We will also be able to inform on consumption patterns, adverse effects and undisclosed events linked to drug consumption,” she said.

“All in all, this is a well-needed network that is poised to drive policy development and support existing actions designed to respond to the prevailing threat of substance use,” the State Minister added.

In total, 15 organisations – predominantly from public health and national security – form the multidisciplinary inter-agency network.