Drug users smoke crack next to Luz station in downtown Sao Paulo
Drug users smoke crack next to Luz station in downtown Sao Paulo Reuters

The Brazilian government has announced that it plans to spend 4 billion reais ($2.24-billion) to fight the crack cocaine epidemic that has spread across the vast country.

The Minister of Heath Alexandre Padilha Rocha Santos told media that drug addiction has increased by a factor of ten between 2003 and 2011, and it has now impacted even remote rural areas far from the bustling metropolises of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Under the government’s program, the money will be available for medical treatment, prevention programs and clinics by 2014. Police will given funds to help tackle border drug-smuggling and add to their intelligence capabilities, said Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo.

President Dilma Rousseff, who completely supports the plan, said that 6,500 troops will be deployed to monitor drug and arms trafficking in border regions.

Crack has become a deep social wound, given its capacity to destroy families, Padilha said at a conference in the capital Brasilia.

The Xinhua news agency reported that Brasilia will seek to improve medical treatment for addicts, demand that medical workers gain extra qualifications, and establish a special healthcare network for recovering addicts.

It is good to have a plan which treats healthcare as a priority. Dealers need repression, but drug users need services, Padilha added.

BBC reported that the government will provide training to about 210,000 teachers and 3,300 police officers on how to deliver anti-drug messages.

Citing a study by the National Confederation of Municipalities, Agence France Presse reported that crack cocaine has now supplanted alcohol consumption in most Brazilian cities and towns due to the easy access to the drug and the low cost [less than five reais or $2.85].