3175 injecting drug users afflicted with HIV-AIDS

Shillong, May 28: The state government has an uphill task to address drug issue as many injecting drug users (IDUs) are afflicted with HIV-AIDS.

Principal Secretary in-charge health and family welfare Sampath Kumar said during a drug reduction event in the city on Tuesday chaired by social welfare minister Paul Lyngdoh that  a programmatic mapping and population size estimation was done in 2022 to 2023 and the number of IDUs is 3175.


Active population of IDUs registered with  NGOs associated with Meghalaya Aids Control Society( MACS) is 2350.

Kumar said mapping was done in eight districts and it was found that 3175 were using the intravenous drugs. “The health department is adopting a mechanism to prevent the spread and they should not use the same injection, and also we are providing opioid substitution therapy (OST) so that they could get into the oral intake and slowly the number is coming down,” Kumar said.

Collective efforts 

The state government has decided to strengthen the village defence parties (VDPs) to eradicate drugs and narcotics in Meghalaya.

The decision was taken at the meeting chaired by Lyngdoh in the presence of officials from the home police department, social welfare, and various NGOs involved in the fight against drugs.

Lyngdoh said the meeting was organised to review the progress of the Drug Reduction Elimination and Action Mission (DREAM), various interventions that have taken place and also looking at the way forward on how to address the gaps in tackling the menace of drugs.

On short term measures taken to address the issue, Lyngdoh said, “One of the areas of discussion was on the revamping and reorganizing and also to look at the possibility of organizing village defence parties especially in the identified hotspots including the Shillong city”.

“One major area of concern for us was the need to make the programme more community oriented. We would not like to see DREAM as just a government initiative. It is very important in order to eliminate and eradicate the menace of drugs and narcotics, we need to broaden the involvement of civil society,” he said.

Lyngdoh said in the last two sessions of interactions with traditional institutions, there was a general consensus that they would like to be involved in identifying and also tackling the menace.

The minister said, “One of the gaps for instance the fact that the dorbar shnongs feel that they are not adequately empowered and for some of them to even identify and be involved in the process of taking an accused and registering against them in the police stations becomes a very cumbersome task. That was one area. And we thought that better policing will happen if we are able to involve the communities through the VDPs and that is going to be a major initiative that we are going to revamp the presence of VDPs across the state.”

The minister said the duties and functions of the VPDs include assisting the police in the maintenance of law and order, peace and tranquillity when needed then to carry out patrol in the area allotted for the party to prevent theft, burglaries, dacoities and other unlawful activities for protection of public lives and properties and to prevent commission of crimes.

“So drugs come under the ambit of the duties and functions of these VDPs,” he said.

“We will be calling a meeting very shortly  involving the various dorbar shnongs beginning with greater Shillong city,” the minister said.

Replying to another question, Lyngdoh said, “It’s a gross misrepresentation of facts to say that government is not supporting, we are supporting as many as 9 de-addiction centres and also the de-addiction activities that are taking place for example the latest example is Mawlai where the community came forward to accommodate these users but all the facilities including food, stay and counselling was done entirely with the funding of the government”

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