Health target 3.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030
Target 3.5: Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.
The United Nations recognizes the harmful use of substances and the social and economic burden it poses on society and has made a commitment to strengthen prevention and treatment strategies for substance use disorders. The mere fact that this is included as a separate goal under Health Target 3.5 speaks to the gravity of the situation and the need to increase resources and enhance training to fight this global threat.
Dr. Hugo Rojas Aldieri, MD, MSc, DipEd, is a physician, researcher, educator, and Ph.D. Candidate at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is a fellow at the Addiction Training for Health Professionals (ATHP) program and is the Lead Instructional Designer for course development. He closely aligns himself with the goals and values of the Program to make health education more readily available and accessible.
Dr. Rojas highlighted the importance of battling stigma and discrimination around addiction, which he believes can lead to “less than ideal care.” He firmly maintains that understanding how to address and treat addiction should be considered a “cross-cutting issue” as it affects all medical specialties and will require healthcare professionals to “adapt to the patients and provide appropriate care.”
He remarked that the ATHP program is taking a system-based approach that equips physicians with knowledge and training and also equips public health workers and policymakers to “advocate and create favorable environments to provide appropriate substance use disorder care.” Through several new innovative strategies and continuous efforts to address mental health disorders and substance abuse in every way possible, he feels confident knowing that the future of public health lies in good hands.
ATHP recognizes that substance use disorders pose a significant threat to public health. The priority is to prepare healthcare professionals to adequately screen, diagnose and treat patients with substance use disorders.