VIENNA, March 12 (UPI) -- Nations must step up prevention strategies as part of a comprehensive response to drug demand, supply and trafficking, a U.N. official speaking in Vienna said.
"At present, the balance between our work on the supply and demand sides stays firmly in favor of the supply side. We must restore the balance," United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yuri Fedotov said during the opening session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.
"Prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration and health have to be recognized as key elements in our strategy," Fedotov said. "Overall, our work on the treatment side must be considered as part of the normal clinical work undertaken when responding to any other disease in the health system."
He urged countries to recognize that drug dependence is an illness, the United Nations said in a release.
The commission is the central U.N. policy-making body addressing illicit drugs.
Fedotov highlighted regional activities sponsored by the U.N. unit, including the start-up of a program for Afghanistan and neighboring countries to help create a coalition to combat opiate trafficking, opium poppy cultivation and production.
As important as such initiatives are, tackling supply only isn't the solution, Fedotov said.
"Let me be clear," he said, "there can be no reduction in drug supply, without a reduction in drug demand, more should be done to address demand."