Thailand mentioned in a new drug report
East and Southeast Asia and South Asia continued to be a source of supply of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine used in illicit manufacture of methamphetamine in the region and other parts of the world, according to the 2014 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
At the same time, Asia has increasing numbers of intermediary companies providing opportunity for diversion. The largest portion of licit precursor chemical export in Asia were by the Republic of Korea, followed by Japan, Singapore, Thailand, China and India.
"Countries in the region and international partners need to significantly scale-up cooperation and technical assistance in precursor control," said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
As progress has been made in tracking down precursors, criminals have turned to new tactics, such as creating front companies and diverting precursors within countries to circumvent international controls. New unregulated "pre-precursors" have rapidly emerged as substitutes for the controlled precursors used to produce synthetic drugs like methamphetamine. UNODC urged vigilance.
"Monitoring global chemical flows is especially important with the rising manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs, which cannot be controlled with traditional supply reduction approaches like crop eradication," said Douglas. "A robust international control system must remain a key supply control strategy."
Around 243 million individuals, or 5 per cent of the world's population aged 15-64, used illicit drugs in the past year, according to the 2014 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Problem drug users meanwhile numbered about 27 million, roughly 0.6 per cent of the world's adult population, or 1 in every 200 people.
Launching the report in locations including Vienna, Bangkok and Yangon today, UNODC appealed for a stronger focus on the health and human rights of all drug users, but particularly for those who inject drugs.
"There remain serious gaps in service provision. In recent years only one in six drug users globally has had access to or received drug dependence treatment services each year," said Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, stressing that some 200,000 drug-related deaths had occurred in 2012.
The UNODC said sustainable success in drug control required firm international commitment. A balanced and comprehensive approach addressing both supply and demand should be backed up by evidence-based responses focusing on prevention, treatment, social rehabilitation and integration.
"This is particularly important as we move towards the Special Session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem in 2016," Fedotov stated. He also stressed that controlled substances should be made more widely available for medical purposes, including for ensuring access to pain medication, while preventing their misuse and diversion for illicit ends.