Education Ministry explores saliva testing

June 7, 2024 12:42 pm

Permanent Secretary Selina Kuruleca [File Photo]

The Ministry of Education is exploring saliva and mucus testing in place of blood and urine tests for children to address drug abuse.

Permanent Secretary Selina Kuruleca says the issue of drug abuse among school children continues to be a significant concern prompting them to explore robust measures to address this escalating problem.

Kuruleca says a few options are available to them and they are currently engaged with the Office of the Solicitor General to evaluate the testing methods.

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Initially, people were talking about blood tests and urine tests. That can’t happen with our children. So, we found a provider that can do saliva testing and mucus testing. So, it’s going to cost us. We’ve also taken it to the Budget Committee. We hope that they’re able to budget for it and how we do the testing.

Kuruleca also stressed the importance of parental consent and the need for clear intervention pathways if a child tests positive for drugs

“If you are found positive, what do we do? What is the intervention pathway? Where will the intervention occur? Is it in the school, in the community, in the church, or at St Giles Hospital? Or do we need to build rehab centres? So, we are looking at all this. The biggest course, the biggest one of all is child protection issues. We’re still dealing with a child who’s made some very poor decisions in terms of the decision to take drugs.”

Kuruleca adds that drug abuse is a significant challenge and requires a collective effort.