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9 Sep, 2009 11:08

Medvedev calls for obligatory drug tests for school children

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is urging an unprecedented new set of measures to fight drug addiction.

Speaking at a special Security Council meeting, the head of state called drug addiction a threat to national security.

"Drug addiction hits increasingly younger drug users, which is a threat to the country's national security, and a serious challenge to the health of the nation, leading to an extremely complicated demographic situation," the president said.

Medvedev stressed that current efforts have failed and has urged working out a consistent state anti-drug policy.

“In order to diagnose drug addiction early, a number of tough measures are being suggested. Some of them deserve further discussion. These also include obligatory drug tests for school children and students,” the president said.

He also said Russia needs to strengthen its borders, as most of drugs are being smuggled into the country, not produced at home.

"In experts' estimates, there are between 2 million and 2.5 million drug addicts in this country, which makes almost 2% of the population. What is particularly dangerous is that two thirds of them are young people under 30," Medvedev said.

The number of registered patients with a diagnosed drug addiction has grown by almost 60% over the past ten years, Medvedev said citing official reports.

To fight drug abuse among Russian students it is necessary first of all to diminish the availability of narcotics, believes Nodar Khananashvili, Vice-President of the National Association of Charity Organizations.

There should be strict instructions for those doing drug testing of students to protect children’s and their parents human rights, believes AIDS and drug expert Dr Tatiana Grechanaya, director of the Health and Work Program of the Global Business Coalition on HIV-AIDS.