‘Analysing, interpreting and disseminating drug-related data to facilitate decision-making’ will be the focus of an innovative training course hosted by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) this week in Lisbon. Opening today and running until 2 October, the event is a thematic twinning initiative of the EU’s Cooperation Programme between Latin America and the European Union on Drugs Policies (COPOLAD). The course is organised in close cooperation with the Portuguese General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD) and the Inter-American Observatory on Drugs (OID) of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States (CICAD–OAS).
COPOLAD aims to improve the coherence, balance and impact of drug policies between the two regions, through the exchange of mutual experience, bi-regional coordination and the promotion of coordinated responses. The EMCDDA is a close COPOLAD partner (‘collaborating reference organisation’) along with the OID and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). In this context, the agency provides technical and scientific support in its areas of expertise and participates in the project’s strategic committee.
Thematic twinning events of this kind form part of a set of COPOLAD initiatives (‘component 2’) designed to strengthen the competence of national drug monitoring centres. The ultimate aim is to obtain adequate, updated, quality and comparable drug-related information which is essential for defining and evaluating drug policies at national and regional level. Two twinning activities — on how to consolidate the monitoring of drug treatment and problem drug use in the COPOLAD participating countries — were already implemented by the EMCDDA, in cooperation with SICAD, in Costa Rica (2012) and Montevideo (2013).
This week’s training will explore a comprehensive concept of monitoring the drug situation at national level using qualitative and quantitative tools and data from different sectors (e.g. health, law enforcement, research, policy). The participants will discuss challenges linked to the interpretation and dissemination of drug-related data, with the purpose of making their efforts relevant to evidence-based decision-making.
The course includes a variety of presentations from EMCDDA and EU experts (including examples of best practice from the region) and a number of working group activities to facilitate the debate. A special session will look at the way forward for strengthening national early-warning systems, a tool helping to identify new psychoactive substances and changes in drug markets in both regions. Participants will take a test at the end of the course to verify the knowledge acquired during the programme.
The EMCDDA has over 20 years’ experience of working with the Reitox network of national focal points (‘drug observatories’) in Europe, now widely acknowledged across the world. In 2010, the EMCDDA and CICAD–OAS published a joint handbook on building national drug observatories, which offers key insights into the core operational processes and strategic factors for establishing and developing these national bodies.