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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06RANGOON713
2006-05-31 07:43:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Rangoon
Cable title:  

DRUG OUTREACH PROJECTS IN NORTHERN SHAN STATE

Tags:   SNAR  KCRM  BM 
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VZCZCXRO2492
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGO #0713/01 1510743
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 310743Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4607
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0900
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9674
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 4170
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1626
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3352
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 6770
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4385
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0759
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0760
RUDKIA/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0422
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2691
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0056
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0335
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000713 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP AND INL; DEA FOR OF, OFF; USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM BM
SUBJECT: DRUG OUTREACH PROJECTS IN NORTHERN SHAN STATE


RANGOON 00000713 001.2 OF 002




1. (U) Summary: UNODC-supported Outreach Projects appear
effective in dealing with demand for narcotics and harm
reduction for residents of northern Shan State. The GOB
cooperates with NGOs to address drug abuse and associated
problems, including high HIV/AIDS infection rates, but does
not address the underlying economic causes. End summary.



2. (SBU) On May 11, emboffs visited the Muse Outreach Project
(MOP) and spoke with supervisor Dr. Denny, who is also
Chairman of the Myanmar Anti-Narcotic Association (MANA), and
with Myint Aung, General Assistant of MOP and Secretary of
MANA. MANA includes both private sector and government
representatives, and supports the MOP. MANA receives funding
from UNODC, Japan and Australia. According to Dr. Denny,
this close public/private collaboration allows MOP to operate
fairly freely, and deflect police interference in MOP's
dealings with intravenous drug users (IDUs), most of whom use
heroin.



3. (SBU) With a staff of thirteen including a counselor and a
nurse, MOP treats 15-20 addicts daily, and about 3,000
annually at a drop-in center, opened in June 2005. Outreach
workers also distribute new, and collect old, syringes from
IDUs. Dr. Denny noted that Muse's location on a major trade
route exposed residents to the high drug use found among
truckers. Active trade opportunities also encourage students
to drop out and work, rather than continue schooling. Low
cost keeps illicit narcotics within reach of many, even with
limited financial resources. Contacts told us that, starting
in 2002-2003, the GOB instituted tighter controls on the
border crossings and on dealers in the city. Although
illicit drugs are still available, they said, dealers are not
so obvious, and they must hide from law enforcement officers.
UNODC also supports police training for border officials to
more effectively combat drug trafficking.



4. (SBU) To reduce the risk and spread of HIV/AIDS, MOP
distributes condoms and provides HIV/AIDS education at its
clinic, through advertising and in local schools. Although
the GOB doesn't allow him to reveal statistics, Dr. Denny
told us that his research showed a slight drop in HIV
infection rates in Muse IDUs from 51% in 2005 to 47% so far
in 2006.



5. (SBU) International INGOs including CARE, PSI and AZG also
operate in Muse. MOP counsels HIV positive patients, and AZG
provides drug therapy to 200 HIV/AIDS patients. Dr. Denny
estimates that each year, 70-100 AIDS patients die in Muse, a
town of almost 150,000, though the rate declined slightly
this year. The Muse clinic and drop-in center are open every
day except holidays and weekends.


Lashio Outreach Project


--------------------------




6. (SBU) On May 12, Emboffs visited the Lashio Outreach
Project (LOP) youth center and clinic and spoke with Director
Dr. Htay Oung. Lashio has a population of over 250,000,
including ethnic Burmans, various ethnic minorities, and many
Chinese. LOP began work in January 2004, and coordinates
regularly with the other four NGOs, MANA, CARE, Asian Harm
Reduction Network and the Asia Regional HIV/AIDS Harm
Reduction Pilot Project, that address drug use in different
sections of the city. LOP's goals include: prevention of
drug abuse by "at risk" youth; reduction of HIV/AIDS
transmission among IDUs; and reduction of drug use.



7. (U) To encourage youths to avoid drugs, LOP offers
numerous sports and art classes, vocational training and
health education in schools and at LOP facilities. On the
day we visited, the center was busy with children reading,
watching television, playing ping-pong and learning guitar.
Over 62,000 visitors have come to the center for services
since September 2004.

RANGOON 00000713 002.2 OF 002





8. (U) To reduce harm from drug abuse, especially
transmission of HIV/AIDS, LOP project workers distribute an
average of 5,000 condoms a month and provide counseling and
education for IDUs, distributing about 7,000 books and
pamphlets monthly. Each month, outreach workers distribute
new and collect used syringes; and refer approximately 10-30
new clients to LOP services. During the previous year, LOP
treated between 627 and 1788 IDUs each month at the clinic.
Dr. Htay Oung estimates that 50-75% of IDUs that LOP treats
are HIV positive.

Drug Users


--------------------------




9. (SBU) According to Dr. Htay Oung, the police
Anti-Narcotics Task Force found that many Lashio users have
shifted from smoking drugs to injecting, because it is
cheaper and more effective. Users under 25 years old
predominantly inject heroin, while older users primarily
smoke opium. One injection costs K.500-1,000 (approximately
40 to 80 cents at market exchange rates). Dr. Htay Oung also
noted that, as in Muse, addicts have found it more difficult
to buy drugs in the past few years because of heightened law
enforcement. LOP operates a mobile team that travels to
nearby Theinni to treat patients, and distribute condoms,
syringes and information pamphlets. The demand is so great,
according to Dr. Htay Oung, that LOP plans to open a new
center in Theinni.



9. (SBU) Comment: UNODC's Muse and Lashio Outreach Projects
have made impressive efforts to deliver services to drug
addicts and reduce drug use. Extending the hours of
operation would make them even more effective. Neither
project, however, addresses one of the main causes of drug
abuse: the lack of economic, agricultural and educational
alternatives for residents of northern Shan State. Without
government services and few prospects for economic security,
some residents take advantage of trade opportunities, while
others, like the addicts we spoke with at the drop-in center,
seek escape from a bleak future. End comment.
VILLAROSA