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African Union steps to fight drug, substance abuse

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By Stevie Chauluka:

CHAKA— The problem is that youths are often misused in society

The bed-fellowship between drugs and African youths continues to be a thorn in the African Union Commission (AUC)’s flesh.

In Malawi, the situation is no different, as the relationship between drugs and youths continues to rattle policymakers.

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So prevalent is the situation that, earlier this year—when Blantyre Police Station spokesperson Augustus Nkhwazi announced that cases of drug abuse had skyrocketed by 30.5 percent, from 50 cases registered in 2017 to 72 cases registered in 2018—People’s Federation for National Peace and Development Executive Director Edward Chaka was not surprised.

“The problem is that youths are often misused in society, to the extent that politicians on both sides of the veil continue to use youths for selfish purposes. For example, it is not uncommon for one to learn that youths have been used to intimidate political opponents.

“In most cases, the youth use drugs to be ‘high’, thereby increasing cases of youth delinquency. We can stem cases of substance abuse if we give youths technical skills, say through technical colleges, and other formal and informal sources of education,” Chaka said.

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According to the World Health Organisation, in its ‘Substance Abuse Research Report’, “Drug abuse has become a global phenomenon affecting almost every country though the extent and characteristics vary depending on the country in question. The most commonly used and abused substances are cigarettes, cannabis, cocaine and alcohol. Alcohol and other related problems are becoming more and more a public health concern and they represent one of the leading causes of preventable death, illness and injury”.

Ministry of Health Principal Secretary, Dan Namarika, said the ministry has put in place a number of interventions to stem such cases, with the view to promoting good health habits in Malawi.

It could be for this reason that the Ministry of Health and Population of the Arab Republic of Egypt has organised the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Health, Population and Drug Control.

Among other things, delegates to the meeting will discuss a consideration of the revised African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

They will also discuss the post political declaration and plan of action on international cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter drug lords strategies.

MWAKASUNGULA— Malawi has not been spared from the negative consequences of drug use

Adviser of the Drug Policy and Harm Reduction Platform, Undule Mwakasungula, said the meeting was a platform for enhancing advocacy for drug policy reforms and harm reduction programmes aimed at those that depend on drugs in Malawi.

“It is important to note that Malawi has not been spared from the negative consequences of drug use including severe human rights violations directly related to criminalisation and stigmatisation of people who use drugs, which is attributed to punitive laws.

“The platform is composed of people, non-governmental and civil society organisations and advocates passionate about addressing the issues of drug policy reforms and harm reduction in Malawi,” he said.

Mwakasungula said Malawi could not afford to remain silent on the matter as it was one of the countries in Southern African faced with cases of drug trafficking and abuse.

In My 2018, a 26-year-old Lilongwe-based Malawian man, Riad Randeri, died in Brazil in what his parents and community members suspected to be a drug mission gone wrong.

The meetings in Cairo will be held from July 29 to August 2 under the theme ‘Increased Domestic Financing for Universal Health Coverage and Health Security for All African Citizens—Including Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced persons.’

It will bring together experts in drug control and health ministers from across the African continent.

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