Jamaica actively participates in various international initiatives that seek to improve national and regional capacity for evidence-based policymaking. The soft launch of Jamaica's Early Warning System on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26th) has attracted international attention and support.
COPOLAD is a cooperation programme funded by the European Commission through EuropeAid, implemented between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU) countries, helping to forge drug policies supported by objective monitoring instruments and based on reliable and effective strategies.
Over the past three years, COPOLAD has worked with Jamaica and other Caribbean and Latin Latin American countries to improve information gathering and reporting mechanisms, which include the development of an Early Warning System (EWS). In commenting on Jamaica's EWS, the Director of COPOLAD, Mrs. Teresa Salvador noted that "We are very pleased to see that the work developed in the framework of COPOLAD is materializing in Jamaica, as one of the first Caribbean countries to establish an EWS (along with Trinidad), to identify and address the new threat posed by New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), so potential
problems can be identified and prevent their adverse consequences, so that human lives can be saved through Public Health and Security measures."
She also outlined that "The establishment of this system in Jamaica is a key indication that the country is moving in the right direction in implementing evidence-based drug policy. This is one of the multiple advancements that Jamaica is developing in this challenging field, such as the publishing of the Annual National Report on the drug situation, the adoption of quality standards in drug prevention and treatment services and professional capacity building. From COPOLAD, we highly value the partnership with Jamaica, which with this new instrument will also be encouraging other Caribbean Countries to establish their own systems and maintain a fruitful cooperation with them to protect lives of their citizens."
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through the Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analysis, Reporting and Trends (SMART) programme, supports 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in building national forensic capacities to detect and identify synthetic drugs. According to Mr. Martin Raithelhuber, Illicit Synthetic Drug Expert and International Coordinator of the UNODC Global Smart Programme, "The range of synthetic drugs available on drug markets has never been wider given that NPS are evolving at an unprecedented speed and the use of synthetic drugs has become one of the most significant drug problems worldwide".
Jamaica, as one of the beneficiary countries, has received advanced drug identification technology from UNODC in the form of handheld drug identification devices. The Jamaican officers trained in their use by UNODC are now capable to identify over 400 different synthetic drugs and precursors with the help of these devices. UNODC also collaborates with forensic laboratories in Jamaica and other countries in the region through quality assurance programmes, forensic capacity building workshops and through the UNODC's Early Warning Advisory (EWA) on NPS. In commenting on Jamaica's progress, Mr. Raithelhuber noted that "Early warning
systems enable countries to anticipate threats, reduce health risks and provide evidence-based information to implement targeted national supply reduction and prevention strategies. I would like to congratulate Jamaica to be one of the first countries in the Caribbean to take steps towards establishing a national early warning system to address emerging drug threats to public health including those posed by synthetic drugs. We would like to encourage countries in the region to establish and strengthen the collaboration with forensic laboratories in the framework of national early warning systems and intensify their collaboration with
regional and global early warning mechanisms.
I would like to thank our counterparts in Jamaica for the excellent collaboration and I am looking forward to an even closer collaboration in the future".