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Drug and Alcohol Strategy success highlighted at UK conference 28 March 2008

THE ISLAND’S Drugs and Alcohol Strategy will present its recent success to the United Kingdom’s 16th Annual Public Health Forum next week.

The Forum, attended by up to 1,000 health authority officials from across the UK, is to be staged in Liverpool April 1st-2nd. The Department of Home Affairs’ Dr Andreea Steriu, Public Health Specialist in Research and Information, will attend to give a poster presentation to the conference, along with Margaret O’Reilly, Strategy Co-ordinator, and Orlagh O’Donoghue, Drugs/Alcohol Education Liaison Officer from the Department of Education. Dr Steriu will present results of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) 2007 survey, which initial findings published recently by the DHA, showed the positive impact of education on cannabis use by Manx students aged 15-16 years.

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle commented:

‘What the ESPAD study found is that cannabis use by the 15-16 year age group decreased over the previous survey in 2003. Those who admitted to ever using cannabis went down from 39% to 34% and those who reported that they had used cannabis in the last year fell from 34% to 27%. The presentation will enable Dr Steriu to highlight the usefulness of undertaking this kind of data collection and analysis and how a co-ordinated strategy can work with education to achieve an improvement in the habits of our young people.’

Research and information are part of the monitoring of the work of the Chief Minister’s Drug and Alcohol Strategy, which includes survey work undertaken on the Island. The Health & Lifestyle Study in Children took place in Island schools in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and was aimed at Year 6 (10/11 years), Year 8 (12/13 years) and Year 10 (14/15 years) in addition to the ESPAD survey for all 15-16 year olds, which was undertaken in 2003 and 2007. Both studies were led by Dr Steriu who is also the Principal Investigator for ESPAD 2007.

Margaret O’Reilly said:

‘These survey results have helped to inform the work of the Strategy and provide valid evidence to illustrate what is working well and what areas need further attention. We know from the school survey programme that cannabis is a problem with our young people up to 16 years. However the pattern of use is changing as the impact of education and prevention initiatives under the Strategy appear to be making some positive impacts.’

The Annual Public Health Forum is the largest multi-disciplinary public health conference in the UK attracting up to 1,000 delegates each year. For more information go to www.ukpha.org.uk.

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