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Written by Fransesco de Angelis   

Three objectives for Europe at the European Commission
by Francesco de Angelis
Director of Horizontal Operations and Innovation
EuropeAid Co-operation Office of the European Commission

The European Commission's role and activities in the three-fold drugs -AIDS/HIV- education issue (education being one of the solutions to the HIV/AIDS public health problem caused by drugs) are stated in the EU Action Plan to combat drugs for 2000-2004 and the EC Programme for Action on communicable diseases for 2001-2006.

As regards HIV/AIDS in particular, the Commission presented the Programme for Action on communicable diseases in February 2001, targeting HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The aim here is to reduce poverty and to constitute a broad, coherent, collective and simultaneous Community response in addition to the Community support from which national health programmes in various countries already benefit. The European Community's policy focuses on actions designed to increase the impact of existing interventions, improve the geographical accessibility and the affordability of medicines, and to carry out research and development on specific public goods on the global scale. These fields of action are inter-active and synergetic.

As far as drugs are concerned, the EU Action Plan is in line, with the principles adopted by the UN General Assembly: these are based in particular on shared responsibility and on the principles set out in the UN Charter and international law, especially those relating to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.

In this EU Action Plan on Drugs, the priorities are preventing drug abuse, reducing the demand and reducing the adverse consequences of drug use. The main targets of the Strategy are as follows: reducing illicit drug use and drug-related health damage, increasing the number of successfully treated addicts, and reducing the drug supply and drug-related crime. The Action Plan was also designed to promote co-ordination at both national and Union levels, as well as international cooperation. This Action Plan provides guidelines and sets priorities for the activities of the European Union for the period 20002004, and places the emphasis on co-ordination, information and evaluation, demand reduction, preventive programmes, reducing the supply, and promoting international co-operation. It provides a clearly defined basis for assessing the EU Drugs Strategy: for the Commission will have to assess the extent to which the actions carried out in the framework of the Action Plan meet the objectives of the Drugs Strategy.

The Commission is preparing to publish further information about the implementation of the Action Plan.

As regards the Commission's external activities in non-member countries, drug-related programmes have been launched in 100 countries at a total cost of more than 100 million. These projects cover a wide range of activities, including prevention, treatment, the social and occupational re-integration of drug users, epidemiological studies, alternative strategy development, testing chemical precursors, customs and police co-operation, institutional support for the development of national policies, combating money laundering, and drafting new legislation.

In the fields of prevention and treatment, various three-fold drugs -AIDS/HIV- education programmes have been set up on the following lines: reducing drug demand by carrying out prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes, reducing harm by setting up awareness programmes on the health risks associated with drug consumption and particularly the use of unsafe needles, and reducing the rate of AIDS/HIV contamination, especially that occurring due to unprotected sexual intercourse. In 1998, a specific 3-year programme was launched, for instance, in India focusing on comprehensive HIV/AIDS and STD treatment and care for intravenous drug users (IDUs) and their sexual partners.

Source: PEDDRO december 2001