Last year’s directive by the minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, banning the sale of Codeine containing cough syrups without prescription across the country is, no doubt, a sad reflection of the alarming state of drug addiction in the country, especially among youths. JOY YESUFU, in this report, looks at efforts by the Ministry of Women Affairs to curtail this abuse in young ones as this year’s Children’s Day draws near.
Tackling the menace of drug addiction and abuse has never been an easy one anywhere as it takes so much to wean the addicts off the substance.
A drug dependent person feels very uncomfortable and does not function optimally any time the regularly abused drug is not available. If the person is seriously dependent or addicted, failure to take this drug may lead to illness.
Drug addiction is the excessive, maladaptive, or obsessive use of drugs for non-medicinal purposes characterised by a compulsion to take drugs on a steady basis in order to experience its mental effects. Drug addiction leads to habitual dependence on drugs, which gives rise to mental, emotional, biological or physical, social and economic instability.
There is no doubt that drug addiction has distressing and extremely awful consequences on the society. Violence, social deviance, mental disorders, upsurge in crime, corruption; destruction of individuals, erosion of societal values, undermining of national economies and premature death are some of the consequences of drug addiction.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), substance abuse is “the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.” It is estimated that about 76.3 million people struggle with alcohol use disorders contributing to 1.8 million deaths per year. The United Nations reported that around 185 million people globally over the age of 15 were consuming drugs by the end of the 20th century.
As a build up to the celebration of 2019 children’s day, with the theme “Drug abuse among children: Addressing the challenges” the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development put together agencies and some civil societies to brain storm on how to tackle the menace.
Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, during a press briefing in Abuja, said it is worrisome to note that a great number of children and youths are involved in illicit drugs.
She expressed her concerns over the recent upsurge in the abuse of substance by very young children in Nigeria, saying it was worrisome to note that a great number of young ones are involved in illicit drugs, adding Nigeria’s profile in drug trafficking and drug abuse has been on the increase over the years.
She said the theme of this year’s celebration was in response to this undesirable state of abuse of drugs.
The minister also said drug abuse among children in Nigeria and all over has led to increase in mental health, temporal or permanent absence from school, crimes such as theft, cyber crimes, ritual killings, armed robbery among other vices in the country, maintaining that this state of affairs is unacceptable if the country is to build a brighter future for the young ones.
She called on NDLEA, NAFDAC and other stakeholders to collaborate to strengthen existing structures like United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and National Pharmaceutical Councils to adopt strategies on reducing drugs abuse among children to secure a better future for our country.
In his address, national programme manager, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC), Danladi Plang, said drug abuse among children portends grave danger for future and survival of any nation.
He said parents can change the narrative if they can implement committments made to promote and protect the rights of our children.
He further said RoLAC programme, with the support of European Union, will continue to give support to implement interventions within their mandates, which protects children in conflict with the law from being incarcerated with adult criminals thus making them vulnerable to being manipulated to join drug abuse and other vices.
He said RoLAC will also continue to pursue the adoption of Child Rights Acts in states that are yet to enact such and provide technical assistance for the implementation of the law.
Director-general NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, in her address, said the policy thrust of the agency is to ensure availability of controlled medicines for licit medical use while preventing diversion to illicit use and abuse, noting that the agency has enhanced surveillance and monitoring to secure and strengthen the supply chain.
Adeyeye said to curtail abuse of drugs by children, NAFDAC, has, at the moment, started a nationwide Youth Agaist Drug Abuse (YADA) education and awareness campaign aimed at reducing the desire for drugs in school children.
This project, she said, targets secondary schools and communities such as universities, churches, mosques, motorists’ union and other relevant stakeholders in peer awareness education on substance abuse and falsified medicines.
Other measures being taken by the agency according to her include;
Issuance of permit to import to companies with registered products and satisfactory distribution record taking into account the country’s allocation by International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
Issuance of permit to clear from the entry ports and warehouse inspection to ensure satisfactory storage of consignments’ inventory control.
Discontinuation of contract manufacture of controlled medicines and restriction of importation to controlled raw materials to licensed manufacturers ( no third party importation).
The National Policy on Controlled Medicines was developed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health to support the local manufacture of selected narcotic medicines in order to reduce the cross border trafficking of controlled medicines to fill supply gaps.
Drug abuse is a serious burden for individuals affected, their families and the community. There are also significant costs to the society, including loss of productivity, security challenges, crime, lawlessness. It is of utmost importance to decrease the demand for drugs amongst vulnerable groups and to equip the public to be able to make informed decisions to create an environment where drugs have no place in our lives.
As we tilt towards the 27th May which is the Children’s Day, set aside each year by the Federal Government of Nigeria to honour, celebrate and raise awareness on the situations and conditions of Nigerian children with a view to promote and protect their inalienable rights, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development urges young ones to stay away from abuse of all forms of substances.