During the pandemic the highest decision making body was the National COVID Task Force with the Prime Minister, Health Minister, Foreign Minister, Goonglen and the Police Chief as members.
The Task Force had wide powers to deal with the pandemic.
Now, another Task Force to fight the scourge of drugs has been formed with the same National COVID Taskforce members.
Lyonchhen while going live on Instagram on Thursday, said that as commanded by His Majesty, the government has formed a Task Force to eventually make Bhutan drug free. The task force will conduct its first meeting on the coming Monday.
Lyonchhen said, “His Majesty announced that the next war will be fought against substance abuse because the biggest threat to the nation is the harm done by substance abuse.”
He said they have to strategize with the ultimate target being zero substance abusers.
The RBP has been asked to come up with the presentation on and law and order front as they are the main agency that is dealing with this.
“We’ll devise a strategy. To begin, we must seal the source and thoroughly examine how it is supplied or distributed in the country. We must also carefully categorize the drug abuser. Some become hooked to it via socialization, while others are genetically inclined; it’s a disease, and we need to investigate it thoroughly,” Lyonchhen said.
Lyonchhen said, “If we apprehend a drug abuser, for example, we’ll have to figure out where he got the habit and how he picked it up. We need to change the community and educate them. We will make certain that he or she does not repeat it. We must change and rehabilitate. We are going to strategize the entire system, and we will make an announcement to the nation one of these days. As a result, we are formulating it. His Majesty has instructed that we commence the task as soon as possible.”
As per Lyonchhen, the task force will have to manage it similarly to the COVID 19 pandemic, in which the government had to trace the primary contact.
“We require a clean rehabilitation. During the pandemic, we had the core National Task Force, and this task has also been assigned to the National Task Force. We must go all out. As task force members, there are five of us. We will then establish the necessary groups. Relevant agencies, including those in the private sector, will be assigned a role. We must adopt a comprehensive strategy. It is not something that can be accomplished by just one or two people,” Lyonchhen said.
The PM said there will be a change in the Act if required. He said if one goes through the Act change is not required as the need is to implement the Act.
“Act says we cannot bring in drugs but people are bringing in drugs, Act says we cannot trade in drugs but we are trading. Act says we must identify the abusers and fix them,” said the PM.
Lyonchhen said certain provisions will have to be amended but as a start 90% can be done without amending the Act.
He said a strategic system will be developed to make Bhutan a drug free nation.
The Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said her role in the Task Force is to design and implement a comprehensive and sustainable drug intervention considering both demand and supply reduction.
As the Chairperson of The Pema, which also has the mandate of substance, the minister will be playing a coordinating role.