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Drug-related deaths appear to remain stable

Zurich has once again recorded the highest number of drug-related deaths Keystone

The number of drug-related deaths in Switzerland is likely to remain stable this year.

Fatalities linked to drug overdoses fell in Geneva, but Zurich remains the worst-affected region.

Between January and November at least 95 people died as a result of heroin, cocaine or other drug overdoses, according to figures submitted by the country’s cantonal police forces.

Zurich – which topped the list with 23 deaths – and only submitted statistics for the first six months of the year.

No figures have been released for Basel City, which saw 20 drug-related deaths in 2003.

Two cantons in western Switzerland recorded a clear drop in the number of deaths linked to overdoses: from 16 down to just four in Geneva and from 21 to eight in neighbouring Vaud.

The number of drug-related deaths has fluctuated between 167 and 210 over the past few years.

Four-pillar policy

The figures peaked in 1992 with 419 deaths, but this number has since dropped significantly as a result of government campaigns, said Markus Jann of the Federal Health Office.

He added that cooperation between police and social workers had contributed to better hygienic and health conditions for drug addicts.

In the mid 1990s the authorities introduced a four-pillar strategy, which is based on prevention, repression, survival help and therapy.

The latest statistics do not include drug-related accidents or suicides.

swissinfo with agencies

Drug-related deaths:

1992: 419
1998: 210
2002: 167
2003: 194

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR