‘The cause of death due to drug overdose is a very sensitive and technically complex issue. It requires not only clinical findings of experts during the post mortem but also careful interpretation of toxicology results’.
This statement was made by the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, today, in reply to a Parliamentary Question pertaining to whether the National Drug Observatory (NDO) Report 2019 contains information on deaths related to overdose of illicit drugs.
According to him, classifying overdose as cause of death can be challenging. Even autopsy results can be relatively non-specific, as in most cases of death due to drugs, the findings are mainly ‘Acute Pulmonary Oedema’ and ‘Acute Cerebral Oedema’, he pointed out. Toxicological analysis and expert interpretation of the results are necessary for proper classification of death, he further indicated.
Mr Jugnauth recalled that the NDO was set up in 2015 under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Wellness so as to monitor and assess the drug situation in the country as well as to devise appropriate strategies to address the drug issue.
He further informed that the NDO Report provides comprehensive information on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug use and harm reduction services as well as supply reduction and related activities, amongst others. It aims at facilitating information exchange among stakeholders so that prompt actions can be initiated to counteract the harmful effects of drug trafficking by addressing demand and supply issues and identifying trends in drug trafficking at an early stage, Mr Jugnauth added.
As regards the NDO Report 2019, the Prime Minister pointed out that it was finalised without data related to death due to drug abuse as the National Drug Secretariat (NDS), which is responsible for the preparation and publication of the NDO Report, noticed that there was a need to define a set of criteria in order to classify a cause of death due to drug overdose.
Mr Jugnauth indicated that consultations were held between all stakeholders concerned, namely the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Medico Legal Department of the Police, the Forensic Science Laboratory and the NDS. Following consultations, it was decided that these organisations will continue to look into ways to identify death due to drug abuse.