LAHORE - Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab on Health Khawaja Salman Rafiq on Thursday disclosed that the total number of injectable drug users in Punjab was around 63 thousand which was a matter great concern. While addressing the launching ceremony of United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC) in Punjab, he said that provincial government was providing preventive services to some 16500 drug users at the centers established in eight cities. He further informed that the registered number of HIV/AIDS people was six thousands whereas 3300 patients of HIV/AIDS are being provided free diagnostic and treatment facilities under Punjab AIDS Control Programme. Kh. Salman disclosed that 50 thousand inmates of prisons in Punjab have been screened out for HIV, out of them 300 prisoners proved HIV positive.He offered UNODC to prepare a joint action plan with the collaboration of Punjab Health Department for eradication of drugs. He said that this action plan should include wide awareness campaign among the masses regarding use of drugs, capacity-building of treatment facilities and the control of HIV/AIDS. The representative of UNODC presented report regarding drug use in Punjab 2013. He observed that Afghanistan had become one of the largest poppy cultivating country in the world and stressed the need for effective measures to control smuggling of narcotics. Kh Salman also said that collective efforts of government, civil society, media and NGOs were required to check the use of narcotics. For this purpose, he added, all the stakeholders should unite on one platform. He said that elimination of narcotics was inevitable to eradicate lethal diseases like Hepatitis-C and HIV/AIDS from our society.He said that the negative effects of use of drugs not only badly affected the family of the drug user but it was also harmful for the society and economy of the country.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 23-May-2014 here.