KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 – University of Malaya’s Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman is the first Malaysian to be appointed as a commissioner of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, an organisation that advocates for drug policies based on science, human rights, public health, and security.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy previously highlighted the negative impact of the “War on Drugs” and how countries’ punitive approach to drugs and the criminalisation of people who use drugs lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, besides hindering access to palliative care, pain medication, and other controlled essential medications.
The Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) said infectious disease expert Dr Adeeba, who is chair of MAF, has been instrumental in influencing the Malaysian government’s shift in drug policies.
“Her efforts have led to the introduction of harm reduction programmes in 2006 to prevent HIV infections among people who use drugs, such as the needle and syringe exchange programme and methadone maintenance therapy,” MAF said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Adeeba was the first Asian to be elected president of the International AIDS Society (IAS), a global association of HIV/AIDS professionals, and is now the IAS immediate past president after stepping down last month.
In an interview with CodeBlue last month after the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada, Dr Adeeba called for a review of Malaysian drug laws and policies to replace them with legislation that prioritises public health and community safety, so as to end the criminalisation of people who use or possess drugs.
She pointed out that punitive drug policy and laws have never served their purpose in eliminating drug use, but instead creates a barrier for people with drug dependence to seek evidence-based treatment.
Commissioners on the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, comprise various former presidents and prime ministers like former Switzerland president Ruth Dreifuss, former Mexico president Ernesto Zedillo, and former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe.