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Brazilian gov't to combat "crack epidemic"


13:04, December 08, 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Brazilian government launched a nationwide plan Wednesday to fight a "crack epidemic," including better medical treatment for addicts and a crackdown on cocaine trafficking.

Increasing consumption of crack, purified and potent cocaine in pellet form, has already been a major problem in Brazil's large cities and is now heading towards middle-sized towns.

The government is taking measures to improve medical treatment for addicts, like asking medical workers to have extra qualifications, adding exclusive beds in hospitals for rehabilitation treatments, and establishing a special healthcare network for those who have recovered reintegrate into society.

"It is good to have a plan which treats healthcare as a priority. Dealers need repression, but drug users need services," Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said.

Also, the new plan involves a crackdown on cocaine trafficking by using police intelligence to capture drug dealers and dismantle their gangs, Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said.

The police will increase border patrols and take charge of areas with large drug consumption, the minister said.

Between 2003 and 2011, the number of crack addicts in Brazil has increased tenfold, forcing the government to take action.

The plan, backed by President Dilma Rousseff, is expected to cost four billion reais (2.23 billion U.S. dollars).

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