Princeton University Library Catalog

PUBLIC HEALTH VS. PUBLIC SECURITY: Responding to Illicit Drug Use in Thailand and Malaysia

Kim, Stephanie [Browse]
Senior thesis
Amon, Joseph [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year:
97 pages
Summary note:
This qualitative thesis analyzes Thailand and Malaysia’s policy response to the rise in HIV prevalence and the impact of these strategies on people who use drugs. This paper presents a historical analysis of the development of the two countries’ national policies that dealt with drug control and harm reduction programs, which refers to strategies that prevent and treat the negative effects of drugs. The willingness and ability of government officials to cooperate and partner with other ministries and civil society groups determined the effectiveness and reach of national harm reduction programs within the country. An additional factor in scaling-up harm reduction services was whether the national government focused its resources on ensuring public security by enforcing punitive drug laws or on promoting public health and universal access to health care. Compared to Thailand, Malaysia implemented a more effective policy response in addressing high HIV prevalence rates among people who inject drugs due to having official government support for a health-oriented approach. However, accessing barriers to health care remain in both countries due to the continued stigmatization of drug use and lack of reform on laws that criminalize drug use. Governments are urged to reevaluate their drug control laws with a public health framework in order to take steps towards providing comprehensive harm reduction services for those who most need them.