St George’s, University of London professor Hamid Ghodse has been elected president of the global drug law body the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The INCB is an independent United Nations organisation that monitors and supports governments’ compliance with international drug control treaties. This will be Prof Ghodse’s 10th term at the helm of the INCB since his first year of presidency in 1993.

In his role as president, Prof Ghodse will lead the INCB’s engagement with governments around the world, as it attempts to stem the illicit drugs trade.

Prof Ghodse, who is a professor of psychiatry and international drug policy at St George’s and also heads its International Centre for Drug Policy (ICDP), said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been elected as president again, and I hope to meet the many challenges faced by governments and the international community.

“There are major challenges on various fronts, including confronting international drug trafficking, international organised crime and money laundering.

“The INCB and I have also emphasised for many years that governments must seriously address the problem of drug abuse, heeding the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Compared to the costs of law enforcement, criminal justice, and of treating and rehabilitating drug abusers, the costs of implementing measures aimed at preventing first use of drugs are minute.

Prof Ghodse hailed the Undergraduate Medical Schools Curriculum on Substance Misuse initiative, led by the ICDP, as a good example of how a government can respond to UN policies designed to stop drug abuse. This programme was set up to promote the teaching of substance misuse issues within the national medical curriculum.

He added: “Another important and complex challenge is to ensure that sufficient drugs are available for medical and scientific purposes. The World Health Organization, together with the INCB, is addressing this with the development of the Access to Controlled Medications Programme.”

Prof Ghodse has been at St George’s since 1978, and over the years has advised governments on medical education and health policy issues. He is editor of the journal International Psychiatry, and member of the editorial board of several other periodicals on psychiatry, substance misuse and addiction. Prof Ghodse is also the author of more than 300 books and papers on drug-related issues and addiction, including Ghodse's Drugs and Addictive Behaviour: A Guide to Treatment.

The INCB was established in 1968 to implement United Nations international drug control conventions. Its work involves identifying flaws in drug control measures, and assisting governments to correct them.