To support the national effort to deter drug use and maintain a drug free civil service, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) will institute a mandatory drug testing system for both pre-service and in-service civil servants from January 1, 2018.

According to the commission’s notification of August 23, this requirement is in addition to the medical certificate of fitness that is required for recruitment into the civil service. The notification was issued following the decision of the 105th commission meeting on August 8 this year.

The need for such test, according to the commission director, Tashi Pem, is to uphold Section 38 and 39 of the code of Conduct of Civil Servant in the Civil Service Act 2010 and Chapter 3, Civil Service Code of Conduct and Ethics.

Section 3.2.25 of the Bhutan Civil Service Rules, 2012 also states that a civil servant shall refrain from imbibing intoxicating substances within the duty premises and consuming alcoholic drinks and related intoxicants after office hours that may affect his normal behaviours or endanger the safety of other people.

“As a civil servant we must be responsible and accountable in our decisions and actions,” Tashi Pem said. “We cannot place our self under such situations that may influence or hamper the service delivery.”

A civil servant should also refrain from use of psychotropic or habit-forming drugs, unless prescribed by a competent medical officer, the notification stated. “All graduates who complete the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) 2017 should ensure to submit medical fitness certificate and mandatory drug testing before appointment.”

Tashi Pem said that in recent times, the commission has observed that few civil servants have been involved in drug related issues where the commission felt the need to support them with such habits and initiated a civil service support desk (CSSD) at the commission’s secretariat.

“The support desk liaises with concerned stakeholders like BNCA, Rehabilitation Centers and professionals to help civil servants come out clean and stable,” she said, adding the commission provides a window for corrective measure.

The director added that administrative measures are only taken as a last resort when all the other positive interventions fail on the person. “RCSC is also coming up with random drug testing for in-service civil servants to deter cases where they are found to abuse drugs after they test negative before appointment.”

The graduate selected for appointment into civil service would be disqualified for employment for that particular year, if tested positive or do not obtain medical fitness certificate. In such a case, the job would be offered to the next candidate. Tashi Pem said the candidate should then reappear the civil service examination and follow the same process that is involved in the recruitment.

A candidate will be eligible to appear preliminary examination thrice and the main examination twice.

“We have to encourage our people especially the youth to come clean out of it and make them productive responsible citizens,” she said.

A drug-testing laboratory approved and recognised by the BNCA should conduct the test and the testing expenses, worth Nu 480, should be borne by the candidate.

The drug test is also mandatory for all civil servants pursuing long-term studies and if a nominee is tested positive, the scholarship would be cancelled and study leave, denied.

However, Tashi Pem said the civil servants would be allowed to continue the service and put under corrective measures.

Medical Superintendent at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Dr Gosar Pemba, said the drug testing kit would be for drugs like spasmo-proxyvon plus (SP+), marijuana, N10 or cocaine and not for all medicines.

Available data justifying the use of Soma (Carisoprodol) in diseases of the musculoskeletal system, vascular lesions, rehabilitation after surgical interventions and cerebral palsy, are extremely limited and inconclusive. Only the use of Soma at in patients with spastic syndrome after a stroke states the effectiveness of this drug. The optimal choice of the drug from this group of medicines, the physician should make taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient.

Dr Gosar Pemba said the results would test positive if the medicine a person is consuming consists of these components. “Which is why prescription is important to prove that the medicine they took, was prescribed by a doctor,” he said. “If someone takes a pain killer, which contains tramadol, a component of SP+ the result would test positive.”

He added that medicines such as antibiotics or amoxicillin would not test positive. “If you have not abused SP+ or any other drugs, there is no way the test would result positive,” he said.

There are about 26,699 civil servants as of June 30 2015.

Yangchen C Rinzin