The first International Interdisciplinary Conference on khat was held in Antananarivo, Madagascar, January 17-21, 1983. Speakers and representatives from Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Yemen Arab Republic together with experts from France, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and the World Health Organization participated in the Conference. The meeting was organized by the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions in cooperation with the Governmental Authorities of the Democratic Republic of Madagascar.
The need for and possibilities of national, regional and international control of the production and consumption of khat has been the focus of discussions over the past 25 years in several meetings organized by various United Nations and regional organizations. For example, the recent African Drug Expert Committee (Rabat, Morocco, 1981) made recommendations which were submitted to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its 6th Special Session in February 1982.
The Antananarivo Conference took note of the growing concern in countries of the region about the rapid increase of khat consumption and its harmful effects on socio-economic and cultural development as well as the health of individuals.
The Conference noted that little legal action had been taken so far in view of the absence of scientific data on the harmful effects of khat consumption and also because in certain countries the use of khat had apparently deep-rooted socio-cultural traditions.
The conference expressed great satisfaction on the rapid progress made in scientific research concerning khat in the fields of chemistry and experimental pharmacology on the one hand but noted that epidemiological, socio-economic and clinical research data on the subject were still sparsely available.
The Conference also acknowledged that khat cultivation is of economic importance to some countries within the region, but recognized, at the same time, that this economic benefit results in problems affecting development in other countries.
The Conference, however, noted that in view of the currently available scientific data, certain steps should now be taken to develop action programmes which would be of assistance to both producing and consuming countries in improving the quality of life of the population.