Sandro Calvani

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All the News about Sandro Calvani and his activities from 1997
Experts recognise methadone treatment’s role in reducing HIV infections
The prevention of HIV transmission in drug users is a major challenge for health authorities around the world, and the methadone treatment programme is a main feature of the harm-reduction strategy for drug users in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Information Centre, 22 Oct 2003
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Thailand: Thaise anti-opiumcampagne vindt navolging in Afghanistan
Marwaan Macan-Markar
BANGKOK, 8 augustus (IPS) - Na Birma zou ook Afghanistan een Thaise methode willen uitproberen om met zachte hand paal de opiumteelt te doen verdwijnen. Een team uit Thailand zal binnenkort naar Afghanistan reizen om het terrein te verkennen voor projecten in de provincies Helmand en Kandahar in het zuiden en Nangahar in het oosten.

IPS, 7 Oct 2003
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L’Onu oltre le macerie
L’editoriale di Giuseppe Frangi sul difficile avvenire delle Nazioni Unite nel XXI secolo.

Vita, 11 Sep 2003
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Drugs-AIDS link threatening South East Asian security and credibility
“... Laws which put the community at risk of infection should be rechecked,” said UNODC East-Asia and Pacific representative, urgeing a review of country policies and laws against drug abuse and to adopt plans for curbing the spread of HIV among injecting drug users."

The link between illegal drug use and AIDS is becoming a serious concern of the governments in the region since it is devastating and affecting the social fabric of the community and Asian values," said Sandro Calvani at a meeting in Yangon in August that gathered representatives from eight regional countries and UN agencies to formulate a strategic plan to reduce HIV infection among IDUs.

"It is also damaging the credibility of the States because drug trafficking causes a lot of corruption and contempt for the law in areas where drugs are produced and trafficked," said the UNODC representative of the East Asia and the Pacific Region, citing the golden triangle and the borders of the Mekong sub-region.

Citing that seven million people in the region were infected with HIV, the trend was starting to accelerate to what had happened in Africa more than ten years ago. He also noted that the population in this region is much larger than the African continent, with China, India and Indonesia having the world’s largest populations.

"We have to consider whether people are infected because they are not informed enough," he said.

Mr Calvani said that urgent intervention is necessary to tackle the issue since the trend of HIV infection caused by injecting drug use was increasing dramatically in some countries. In Indonesia, the prevalence of HIV infection caused by injecting drug use has dramatically increased from about 2.5 per cent in 1997 to 80 per cent in 2003. Vietnam also has a sharp increase of 85 per cent this year, compared to 9.4 per cent in 1996.

He also urged the countries to review their policies and laws against drug abuse and to adopt plans for curbing the spread of HIV among injecting drug users. "We have to be very careful and pragmatic in our policy in order to apply proper responses to the challenge that we have. It is important that the response to drug issues should not pose another threat to the community," he said. "Normally the laws are designed to protect the community. Laws which put the community at risk of infection should be rechecked.

"If we don’t adopt the harm reduction activities for injecting drug users we bring the epidemic of HIV-AIDS to a larger community. There are some countries like Myanmar and China that are doing serious policy review and pilot initiative. Other countries with a serious drug abuse problem should also take the policy change," Mr Calvani said. He also urged the countries to allocate more resources to detention centres where there is a high risk of infectious diseases through homosexuality and injecting drug use.

"Prisons in many countries become an epidemiological pump which should no longer be allowed to continue. There should be much more protection of human rights and the health of prisoners," he said. Mr Calvani said officers needed to be trained to avoid stigma and discrimination towards drug users and infected people. Dr Agostino Borra, resident representative of the World Health Organisation, said in his opening address that confirmed and serious HIV epidemics among injecting drug users were reported in the region. "We know that the HIV epidemic can spread from injecting drug users to their spouses and subsequently to their children."

Myanmar plans to conduct the activities on harm reduction among injecting drug users in Myitkyina, Muse, Lashio, Tachilek, Taunggyi and South Dagon in Yangon under the sponsorship of the Australian Aid Agency. - Myanmar Times.

AHRN Newsletter, Issue No.32-33, 30 Aug 2003
UN sees rapid rise in Amphetamine use worldwide
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Around 1,000 drug barons, mostly in Southeast Asia, are flooding global markets with synthetic drugs such as ecstasy and speed as they switch from heroin and cocaine production, a top United Nations anti-drugs official said.

Sandro Calvani, head of the U.N. anti-drug office for Asia and the Pacific, told Reuters the world’s primary source of amphetamine-type stimulants -- known by enforcers as ATS -- was Southeast Asia.

He said Myanmar was the biggest producer of speed, which was smuggled mainly to China, Thailand, Australia, Japan and Korea. Indonesia was a haven for ecstasy makers, although not as big a producer as the Netherlands.

"The market of ATS goes by millions of people, not by a small percentage, zero point something of the world population, like heroin or cocaine," Calvani said in an interview.

U.N. officials say amphetamine factories can be easily hidden, unlike heroin and cocaine production facilities, and it is easy to recruit legal companies to produce precursor chemicals. But no reliable data exists on the quantity produced.

A U.N. report published this week said opium production in the notorious Golden Triangle region where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet is expected to drop to 183,000 acres this year from 235,900 acres in 1996.

It credited government clampdowns and international efforts to promote alternative income sources for thousands of poor farmers.

Calvani said the profits from synthetic drugs were bulging the pockets of a small number of drugs barons and cracking down on the trade had none of the social impact of cutting production of opium, the raw material for heroin.

"There is no poverty-driven amphetamine production. It is just a criminal behavior, driven by greed only, and benefiting very few number of people," Calvani said.

"The best way to control it is international cooperation and understanding that we are all in the same boat and we should talk to each other instead of finger pointing."

Thailand, a major conduit for narcotics produced in Myanmar, has in recent years become a big consumer of methamphetamines made by its northern neighbor, with as many as 1.5 million regular users and one billion pills flowing into the country each year.

A bloody 90-day Thai government crackdown on methamphetamine traffickers and dealers launched in February, which cost 1,600 lives, has raised fears the drug flow into the Thai market would now be diverted to other Asian countries. Thailand says the campaign cut methamphetamine use in the country by 90 percent.

Calvani said global demand for drugs such ecstasy and speed was growing because their use did not have the same level of social stigma attached to heroin and cocaine.

"Taking heroin and cocaine is largely perceived as deviant behavior so therefore there is significant social control. People are extremely afraid or ashamed of using those drugs," he said.

"In the case of amphetamines, there is significant tolerance in the community...users are not deviant people, they are rigorous workers, rigorous students, who dope to perform better. They look for a quick fix."

Reuters, 20 Jun 2003
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