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NIDA TV Spotlight on the Iraqi Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG)

According to Iraqi health officials, drug abuse is increasing throughout the country, In an effort to collect data and interpret the trends, local national substance abuse specialists along with the National Institutes of Health(NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) and UCLA, established a new group in Iraq, the Iraqi Community Epidemiology Work Group(CEWG). This video includes interviews with Former Iraqi Minister of Health, Dr. Salih Al-Hasnawi and University of Baghdad,College of Medicine Professor, Dr.Nesif Al-Hemiary during the NIDA Community Epidemiology Work Group(CEWG) Conference in St. Louis Missouri, June 2013.



Salih Al-Hasnawi, MD Former Iraqi Minister of Health Speaking:

Most of Iraqi population, more than forty percent is below the age of fifteen, so the Iraqi population is a youth population.

And as you know: youth is a high-risk group for substance abuse, this is first.

The second thing, is because of geographical area, geographical situation of Iraq.

From the East, you know there is Iran and Afghanistan…Afghanistan one of the major countries that produce Opium, and Iran is one of the major countries abusing Opium. 

After 2003, and after the occupation of Iraq, the new situation that made of lot of stress on the population with the unemployment and the security situation, a lot of explosions, this made the stress so high. 

So this is also one of the vulnerabilities of the population for abusing substances.

Nesif Al-Hemiary, MD College of Medicine Professor, Univ. of Baghdad Speaking:

The CEWG is very effective in giving information about the substance abuse problems and also keeping updating of these problems.

If you want to know about substance abuse you may do for example a national survey, but a national survey needs a lot of time and a lot of costs and sometimes the results will not be that accurate, because people may not respond, especially in our community where the stigma is very high for substance abuse.

So we went to the data of the police, data of the prisons, data of the schools, universities, health care systems, customs and so on.

And we collect all this data and we try to draw a picture of substance abuse in Iraq, which showed many amazing things which were not known before.

Salih Al-Hasnawi, MD Former Iraqi Minister of Health Speaking:

The basis of any planning for the future is the data, so collection of data is important especially for the Ministry of Health to start its plan.

And also we look for updating a lot of acts in Iraq, a lot of law.

One of them is the Controlled Substance Law, Substance Controlled Act, which the Iraqi law is 1965 law, and is more than forty, fifty years nearly. 

So we need to update the law, and updating the need good information.

So I think, the collection of data is very important for both the planning, of the providing services and updating a law that was for a long time, not updated.

Nesif Al-Hemiary, MD College of Medicine Professor, Univ. of Baghdad Speaking:

For the substance abuse problem in Iraq I think it will keep growing and will keep having new substances, especially the hard substance, which were not popular in Iraq in the past.

But I think that the CEWG work will improve, and the data collection will improve and there will be some special surveys especially for high-risk groups.

And there will be more cooperation in exchanging information between different sectors that are interested in substance abuse.


This page was last updated August 2013