NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow Asia Ashraf, Pakistan, spoke during the opening session of the United Nations Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation held before the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS). Calling her topic “a rather neglected area of drug abuse in many parts of the world,” Ms. Ashraf described how drug use among women is rising and underreported. She cited a United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime estimate that 22% of Pakistani drug users are women, and described how the lack of expertise and female-friendly services combine with concerns about social stigma, family reputation, marital risk, and cultural constraints to deprive women of evidence-based treatment for addiction. Ms. Ashraf added that she is using her NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowship to gain knowledge and skills to treat female drug users, and announced that her organization will establish a separate female drug treatment facility in Pakistan. She challenged UNGASS participants to accept the global responsibility of preventing and treating drug abuse. Ms. Ashraf is director of rehabilitation and head of the Psychology Department at the Sunny Trust International Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in Islamabad.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, welcomes NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow Asia Ashraf, Pakistan, to the Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation on the World Drug Problem.