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The Series of Global Drug Abuse Prevention Conferences

Global Conference On Drug Abuse Prevention
, Malaysia

 Skills for Drug Abuse Prevention

Penang, Malaysia May 13-17, 2002


  • Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme (DAP)

  • International Federation of Non Governmental Organizations, (IFNGO)

  • National Association for the Prevention of Drug Abuse Malaysia (PEMADAM)

(Conference Photo Gallery)


The  IV Global Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention which had the theme “Skills for Drug Abuse Prevention” was successfully held in Penang, Malaysia from 13 to 17 May 2002.  It was organized by the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme and hosted by the National Drugs Agency Malaysia in collaboration with IFNGO and PEMADAM Malaysia with funding from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), US Department of State and the Government of Japan.

 The First Global Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention was held in Lima, Peru from 26 – 30 May 1998 and the theme was “The America-Asia Dialogue”.  The Second Conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand from 8 – 12 November 1999 and the theme was “Effective Primary Prevention Strategies: Possibilities for the Next Millennium”.  The Third Global Conference was held in Sicily, Italy from 15 – 29 September 2000 and the theme was “Global Networking: New Frontiers in Drug Abuse Prevention for Youth and Communities”

 Special Guests:

  • Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, “No country can deal with the problem of illict drugs without the total commitment from all sectors of society and this commitment must be an action oriented statement of commitment.”

  • Dato Wan Ibrahim bin Wan Ahmad, Director General of Malaysia’s National Drug Agency

  • Kakuko Kotaka, Representative of the consulate General of Japan

  • Thom Browne, Deputy Director of US Department of State. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

  • Chairman of IOC, Tay Bien How, Director of the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory


Enhancing life skills in drug abuse prevention; role of the media; mobilizing the workplace against drug abuse; Special Task Force Strategic Planning Meeting; formalizing formation of Global Drug Prevention Network.

Objectives Of The IV Global Conference

The objectives of the IV Global Conference were: 

i.            To enhance specific skills in drug abuse prevention ;

ii.            To develop the global network on drug abuse prevention;

iii.           To share best practices on innovative approaches in drug abuse prevention;  and

iv.           To forge linkages among coalitions, NGOs and prevention practitioners in drug abuse prevention.


There were more than 300 participants from 39 countries in this conference.  The countries represented are the following:

Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Fiji, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Uruguay, USA and Vietnam.

 Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony commenced with the recital of blessings followed by the messages of the honoured guests and then the keynote address.  The conference was officiated by the Hon. Dato’ Haji Zainal Abidin Haji Zin, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs representing the Right Honourable,  Dato’ Seri Abdullah b. Haji Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.  The Chief Guest extended his greetings and warm welcome to the delegates on behalf of the Government of Malaysia.

He stated that drug abuse and illicit trafficking continues to plague every country in the world despite the intensified and collaborated efforts by the United Nations, its subsidiary bodies and countries worldwide.

 He suggested that all countries represented in the conference could consider emulating the direction set by ASEAN countries to forge ahead for a drug-free region by 2015.  He urged that countries should make concerted efforts to develop and harmonize international drug control cooperation to enable all countries and their citizens to enjoy a drug-free world as soon as possible.  Together we can reduce drug abuse and drug trafficking.

 He then officially declared this IV Global Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention opened.


Ms. Kakuko Kohdaka, Japanese Counsel Consulate General of Penang extended her greetings on behalf of the Government of Japan.  She noted the successful contributions of Colombo Plan in the improvement of the social and economic development of Asia and Pacific Region.  To date, the Drug Advisory Programme of Colombo Plan is the only regional organization dealing with this menace of drug abuse.  She said that the drug problem should be dealt with through a wide range of regional cooperation among neighbouring countries.

She stated that the conference gave a chance to the practitioners to upgrade their skills through their active participation and at the same time to establish a network among GOs, NGOs and practitioners in drug abuse prevention.

She was delighted that the Government of Japan is a sponsor of this important conference, as this conference would provide the invaluable opportunity for the experts and practitioners to meet in one place to share their concerns and enhance their skills.

Mr. Thomas Browne, Deputy Director, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), US Department of State stated that the Government of United States of America is happy to sponsor this global conference, which is the fourth in the series.  He noted the intense commitment and cooperation of the 39 countries represented in the conference.

“The drug problem is a global problem; it is therefore essential that this major social scourge be fought through international cooperation. The presence of so many delegates from different countries of the globe who are here to exchange ideas and learn from each other to tackle the common enemy called illicit drugs is a testimony of their persistence and the importance given by this global conference.”  He further commended the Government of Malaysia for the effective drug abuse prevention and control programme.

Mr. Tay Bian How representing the Colombo Plan DAP extended his warm greetings and further elaborated on the role of the Colombo Plan, particularly the Drug Advisory Programme in efforts to combat the drug menace in the region.

He also deliberated that the DAP is privileged to be the major partner in implementing this global initiative since the First Global Conference at Lima, Peru and underscored that prevention is the cornerstone in efforts to combat the drug menace in the region.

He further stressed that the life style of the people will change as conditions in a country alters.  This is in view of the technological advancement in the 21st Century and the needs of the people will certainly alter with changing environmental conditions and life style.  In view of the above, he rationalized the skills-based approaches as compared to the cognitive-based approaches in drug abuse prevention.

Lastly, he thanked the sponsors namely, the Bureau for International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), US Department of State, particularly Mr. Thom Browne and the Government of Japan for contributing to this conference and the local host, National Drugs Agency as well as the other collaborating agencies such as PEMADAM and IFNGO for organizing this conference.

Dato’ Sri Aseh bin Che Mat, Secretary General, Ministry of Home Affairs, Malaysia delivered the keynote address.  He welcomed the delegates to this beautiful island of Penang.

He was happy to note that the theme of this global conference is on the transfer of knowledge in the form of skills training which should fit into the needs of the respective countries.  The transfer of technology or what is known as skills’ transfer in crucial.

When formulating policies and designing programmes, remember that children today are very different from the yesteryears.  They have different priorities, social pressures, high stress levels and low moral support from parents.

He pointed out that many religions forbid the consumption of drugs except for medical reason.  However, many choose to ignore this prohibition when it comes to drug abuse.  People are intolerant when others commit an act against their religion but they are less concern and conveniently ignore the forbidden act of drug abuse.  Why?

He reminded the parents to practice their very important roles and responsibilities to their children.  The drug abuse prevention practitioners should help the parents to enhance their parenting skills so that the children will be able to make responsible choices and travel confidently down the road of life.

He expected that this global conference should be able to establish a network of GOs and NGOs to fight drug abuse.

He said that it is most unfortunate that the workshop on utilization of cyberspace technologies in drug abuse prevention was cancelled.  He suggested that countries in the Asian region should develop websites about drugs targeting the youth.  He gave a caution that the websites should respect the cultural values, tradition and diversities in the region.e an impact and bring about youth empowerment to stay away from drugs and drug abuse. 

Finally, he reminded the delegates that practical programmes and strategies should work hand in hand with the strong political will in their respective countries in preventing and controlling drug abuse.

Dato’ Wan Ibrahim Wan Ahmad as the chairperson of the organizing committee extended his heartfelt thanks to the Right Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia cum Minister of Home Affairs Malaysia for officiating the opening ceremony of this Global Conference.

He also thanked the State Government of Penang for the full support extended to the organizing committee and the delegates.

Further, he thanked the Government of United States of America especially the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) for their generous contribution to this conference.

The Colombo Plan was also cited, particularly Mr. Tay Bian How, the Director of the Drug Advisory Programme and the officers of this Global Conference for working very hard to ensure the success of this conference.

The delegates who travel from all over the world to attend this conference were also given special attention.  It is hoped that every delegate will have the opportunity to enhance at least one drug prevention skill in this conference and the enhanced skill will certainly contribute to the fight against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking.  Our united efforts should rid the world of drug abuse.



  1. Need to educate individuals on skills’ development during or at early adolescence.

  2. Need to integrate life skills in the school curricula.

  3. Getting young people involved in their communities and environment.

  4. Focus on skill development so that prevention will really work.

  5. Sustainability of activities is very necessary in all primary prevention efforts.

  6. Enhancement of life skills must be integrated into youths’, parents’, and schools’ and workplaces’ activities/programmes.

  7. Prevention practitioners should look up-stream not down-stream before planning any activity.


No recommendations were raised during this session due to time constraint. However from the presentations a programme can be considered a best practice when it has successfully achieved a better ‘measurable condition’ within a period of time. Continuous monitoring, evaluation & research are needed to sustain the achieved results and improvements must be made where necessary.


  1. Counseling and drug education programmes need to be established and integrated.

  2. Strengthening research activities helps to deepen knowledge on drug prevention.

  3. Decision-making skills and effective communication skills are vital for preventing oneself from being involved in drugs.

  4. Fund-raising is important for implementing programmes on the dangers of drug abuse.

  5. Need for capacity building in ATS  identification and investigative techniques.

  6. Educating youth/youngsters on the dangers of ATS should not cover/expose the “positive” effects of its use.

  7. Teachers are advised to be proactive in identifying high-risk students.

  8. Artistes and celebrities to be made role-models or working team-partners in drug prevention programmes.

PLENARY SESSION IV:  (16 May, 2002)

  1. Persuade Governments on the value and importance of funding drug prevention activities.

  2. Getting the support and patronage of the political leadership.

  3.  Political will is an essential condition for creating a drug-free society.


  1. Strengthen family values, traditions and practices.

  2. Harm-minimization as a Government policy is a roadblock to prevention.

  3. Adjustment within the family is needed to accept the return of the recovering family member. Family counseling is       needed to help families change their attitude and accept the recovering member.

  4. Develop ‘informed parents’ in order to drug-proof children.

  5. Support and strengthen basic religious values.

  6. Integrate family and parent education into existing Drug Prevention Programmes.


  1. Need for NGOs and Governmental Organizations to work together.

  2. Youth to be involved in decision-making and should freely express their opinions regarding drug prevention.

  3. Parents should give more attention to their children and their activities.

  4. Responsible state agencies should take stringent measures to stop the supply of illicit drugs and chemical precursors.


  1. Discussions should be held and ideas should be shared among the community members.

  2. Religious institutions need to upgrade their services so as to be more accessible to high-risk groups.

  3. Parents should play their role effectively.

  4. Identify those in need of help and the means to help them.


  1. Treatment services should be more responsible particularly regarding careful prescribing, dispensing and administering substitute medication to addicts.

  2. Prompt and aggressive treatment may be essential in order to prevent the rapid progression to severe illness and death.


  1. Narcotics control strategies should involve supply and demand reduction.

  2. Law enforcement officers, as role-models, should work with youths and community members in the overall drug prevention strategy. Activities such as holiday camps, focusing on leadership and team-building organized by the police and army are also good training provided to youth to enhance their social responsibility and life skills.

  3. Law enforcement in anti-narcotics initiatives must include effective prosecution, freezing of assets of traffickers, countering money laundering, speedy trials and the establishment of special courts.

  4. Law enforcement should adopt a multi-agency approach in an integrated and comprehensive manner to eradicate drug abuse.

  5. Law enforcement officials need to be trained in order to address the various target populations such as youth with a view to enhancing their coping and life skills towards a better quality of life. This approach enhances demand reduction in the long-term amongst youth.

  6. There is a need to consider a combined approach by law enforcement and prevention officials with regards to programmes in schools to educate them on the dangers of drug abuse through enhanced knowledge, awareness of life-skills and coping capabilities.

  7. Basic information on drug abuse and how to eradicate it has to be incorporated in the school syllabus with the cooperation of the Education Ministry. Officials from law enforcement and prevention may be included as facilitators. In this context the police and army may also be utilized to this end.

  8. Close monitoring of trends and activities, vis-à-vis supply and demand needs to be undertaken in order to strategically combat the drug menace. Relevant agencies should be mobilized and resources utilized optimally towards an efficient and concerted effort in eradicating the drug scourge.


  1. Create awareness among the drug addicts that it is a myth that drugs, including A.T.S., have any ‘superman’ qualities.

  2. Since the pleasurable area of the brain is permanently damaged there is no such thing as a recovered addict.  Patients are in a state of active recovery and have to be cautioned against possible relapse.

  3. Teach parents coping skills, life skills and parenting skills using the existing infrastructure of the Government to include all working “mums and dads”.


  1. Both Government and Non-Government Organizations have to work co-operatively to help street kids because they are highly sensitive to drug abuse.

  2. The best way to prevent people in slum areas from using drugs is to give them security and by providing enough infrastructures.

  3. Infrastructure must be provided to the marginalized in accordance with 3 basic needs: living condition, reward and appreciative care.

  4. Besides persuading street children to join drug treatment and rehabilitation programmes, governments, NGO’s and other agencies in every nation have to find ways to reintegrate and bring them into the mainstream of society.

  5. Media have to consider their role in advertising so that their consumers will be well protected.


  1. Commitment and support from top management for an effective and sustainable drug prevention program in the workplace.

  2. Written policies and guidelines on processes, evaluation and achievement indicators, should be the basis of an effective workplace programme.

  3. Sufficient resources to implement programs and activities.

  4. Right approach leads to right attitude and cooperation.


  1. The development and implementation of early intervention programmes must be done carefully.

  2.  Parents should be given training on prevention of drug abuse to safeguard their children.

  3. Create awareness among school officials and teachers on the importance of undertaking and implementing early intervention programmes in schools.

  4. Anti drug messages should be developed by anti-drug practitioners and disseminated to target groups via mass-media, on regular basis.

  5. All programmes should be evaluated after implementation.


  1. To consider the establishment of a National Council for the Prevention of Drug and Substance Abuse with representation from GOs and NGOs, Civil Society, Private Sector, Academics and Research Institutions to monitor the implementation of Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention Programmes in countries that do not have such an organization.

  2. To prevent children and youth from being lured to addiction of “gateway drugs”. Government and Sports Organizations should not permit and condone tobacco and alcohol companies to sponsor sports and youth events and the telecast of such events. Governments should assume responsibility to sponsor such events in the absence of acceptable alternate sponsors. Governments should take cognizance of the long-term health, social and economic costs of tobacco and alcohol addiction, which outweighs the short-term returns of advertising and sponsorship by tobacco and alcohol companies. Specifically, Governments and FIFA should ensure tobacco and alcohol-free sports during the forthcoming World Cup in Japan and the Republic of Korea.

  3. We call on National Governments to work together with the pharmaceutical industry, medical practitioners and drug abuse prevention professionals to effectively combat the increasing abuse of prescription drugs.

Closing Ceremony 

The programme started with the representative from the Americas, Mr. Ben Jenkins from Canada praising the Asian countries with their strong commitment to fight drug abuse.  He said that these countries should go with their strategies, which are found to be effective.  He noted that the network is becoming very “rich”.  He thanked the organizers and sponsors of this conference on behalf of the Americas. 

Dr. Philip Lazarov from Denmark spoke on behalf of the European countries.  He said that perhaps in the future there would be more countries, which should participate in this global conference.  There are 5 European   countries represented out of about 40 countries represented here in the conference.  He noted the very clear message in this global conference, “Yes to Life”.   He also thanked the organizers and sponsors, particularly the Government of Malaysia.  He noted the beautiful smiling faces of the Asians. 

Mrs. Estella Ponce from the Philippines represented the Asian countries.  She thanked the organizing committee and sponsors for giving the delegates the opportunity to share and acquire skills from each other.  She particularly praised the young advocates for drug abuse prevention who are determined to succeed in their tasks, that is the world without drugs and adopt the motto, go for a drug-free nation / world. 

Mr. Tay Bian How from the Colombo Plan joined the previous 3 speakers to thank the following: 

·              The US Government and the Government of Japan for funding this Global Conference

·              Government of Malaysia, particularly the National Drugs Agency and other collaborating agencies such as PEMADAM and IFNGO for successfully organizing the conference

·               The sponsors such as Zesta Tea, Celcom Malaysia and Viva Revival Sdn Bhd for funding publicity banners

·               All delegates, particularly chairpersons, trainers, paper presenters and rapporteurs for their active participation and making this conference a success 

He further stated that the DAP was extremely pleased with the outcome of the conference and praised all concerned that were instrumental in the successful implementation of the IV Global Conference although we had hardly 2 months to organize this huge conference with the participation of more than 300 participants from 39 countries. 

The Hon. Dato’ Haji Wan Ibrahim bin Wan Ahmad, Director General of the National Drugs Agency, Ministry of Home Affairs delivered the closing remarks.  He said that it is time to share the best practices in innovative strategies for drug abuse prevention. 

Further, he stated that to achieve a drug-free world, all countries should not solve the problem in isolation.  Literacy, poverty and other basic human needs of life should be addressed clearly.  There is a need to continue the cooperation and collaboration of governments beyond this conference.  He thanked all the delegates for coming, particularly those who traveled a long way.  It is an indication of the commitment to combat the drug problem. 

He thanked Colombo Plan, US Department of State and the Japanese Government and officially declared the conference closed. 

The certificates of participation were handed over by country arranged alphabetically. 

The IV Global Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention came to an end successfully in a pleasant atmosphere.

IV Global Conference on Drug Prevention Resolution: