New group to oversee next steps in tackling the crisis.
International experts and people affected by drugs are being joined by third sector and local government representatives to support the National Mission to reduce drug deaths.
The National Drugs Mission Oversight Group has met for the first time and will reconvene every three months.
The group was set up by the Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance to provide scrutiny, challenge and expert advice to the Scottish Government and the wider sector as services are adapted and improved to save more lives.
Among the members are Dr Sharon Stancliff of the New York Health Department, Dr Michel Kazatchine, Special Advisor to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and Professor Thomas Kerr PhD who heads up the Social Medicine division of the University of British Columbia.
Ms Constance said:
“I thank all those who have joined the Oversight Group and, following a constructive first meeting, I look forward to hearing their ideas on how we can improve and accelerate our efforts to tackle the drugs deaths emergency.
“The first year of the National Mission was about building the foundations for change – rolling out Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards, expanding access to residential rehabilitation, setting a new treatment target, increasing funding to community and grass-roots organisations and preparing the ground for innovation such as Safer Drug Consumption Facilities.
“Now we must focus on delivering on those foundations and the Oversight Group will provide scrutiny, challenge and expert advice on the National Mission, including the government response to the final recommendations of the Drug Deaths Taskforce, which are expected towards the end of July.
“As we move into this next stage of our efforts to tackle this public health emergency, backed by £250 million over the course of this parliament, I am more determined than ever to bring about the changes required to improve and save lives.”