The approach taken by Singapore to combat drugs has been more effective than that adopted by some other countries, according to a study conducted by Duke-NUS.
Led by Prof Stella Quah, Adjunct Professor, Health Services and Systems Research Programme, Duke-NUS, the study was commissioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs last year and it compared Singapore's “harm eradication” approach to tackling drugs with 11 other countries including Germany, Australia, Canada and Thailand.
The study found that the “harm eradication” approach, involving public and private sectors to control and eradicate drug addiction, has seen progress in areas such as rehabilitation, prevention, and stamping out illicit use of drugs. This is in contrast to the “harm reduction” approach practiced by the other 11 countries featured in the study, which has seen increasing evidence of harm caused by drug injecting, according to the study.
The harm reduction approach focuses on reducing the harmful consequences associated with drug use, such as through needle exchange programmes. "It is premised on the addict being able to make rational choices to protect or enhance his wellbeing. However, evidence has shown an addict's ability to make rational decisions on his own welfare is impaired by his addiction," the study said.
Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs, referenced the study at a UN Commission of Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna, Austria, saying that Singapore would persevere in its uncompromising stance against drugs with harm eradication. He also cited another study by the Institute of Mental Health during his speech at the meeting.