The Presidential Advisory Committee on Elimination of Drug Abuse on Thursday restated its commitment to solving drug abuse menace in the country.
Chairman of the committee, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd), stated this in Lagos when the committee made an advocacy visit to the state’s Ministry of Health.
Marwa commended the state government for recognising that the country was facing drug abuse crisis and urged it to keep the pace with the issue.
He said: “We have a drug abuse crisis. However, we will together solve it.
“It is not beyond redemption and President Muhammadu Buhari has the political will to get to the bottom of things and implement the recommendations that will bring forth solutions.
“PACEDA needs to do its job, which is to find solutions that are sustainable and implementable; we plan to complete our assignment on May 29.
“We have gone very far; this stage of our work will be embellishment of what we have done since December, 2018 facing supply and demand reduction.
“We have met with the heads of agencies and almost all regulators, including NAFDAC, Ministry of Health, Customs, PSN, and had very fruitful exchanges.”
The chairman said that there was need to re-introduce drug education in schools, starting from the primary level.
He also said that tackling the menace of drug abuse would begin from the community level – the destination of the supply chain of both the drug users and sellers.
He said: “The structure has to begin from the community; there must be drug abuse committees, just like we have in the state.
“Each local government area and community have to have a drug abuse committee in order to tackle the problem.”
On his part, Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, said that drug abuse was a public health issue and a form of mental illness that was not taken seriously in the country.
Idris said that advocacy and education were key to addressing drug abuse.
He, however, said that lack of funding of health and education sector was a major challenge to addressing the issue.
Idris said: “We cannot succeed in enforcement if the people we are trying to address are not educated and have the knowledge of where to go to.
“There are policy issues that need to be addressed in terms of investment in education and health.
“Stakeholders want to enlighten people, but this costs money; disease control cost money.
“There are many things we can do, but when it comes to the people, education is key and this requires money and people.”
In his remarks, Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association, Lagos chapter, Dr Oseni Saliu, identified inadequate rehabilitation centres as a challenge to addressing drug abuse.
Saliu called for the need to establish rehabilitation centres at the community level to help curb the menace.
He said: “Apart from the central, for instance, a place like Lagos has five divisions; we can have one centre attached to each division.
“In those divisions we can have sub-units. Those are things we can do.
“We need to let the community know that substance abuse is a disease that can be treated and in that way, the stigma will reduce.”