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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Drug abuse needs drastic action

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Dowa East Member of Parliament Richard Chimwendo Banda’s call to Parliament to act swiftly on drug and substance abuse that is threatening lives of young people in the country is convincing and has come at a right time.

Chimwendo Banda yesterday told the august House that there are currently six young people admitted to St Johns Hospital in Mzuzu due to drug and substance abuse.

The legislator spoke barely hours when reports emerged that a 26-year-old Lilongwe-based Malawian man, Riyadh Randeri, died in Brazil in what is suspected to be a drug mission that went wrong.

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Malawi is among African countries with the youngest population in the world.

The country’s youth population (aged 15-24) is expected to be more than double of the present. Yet the country remains stubbornly inhospitable – politically, economically and socially – to young people.

But the success of Malawi government’s efforts to address this will be the single most important factor determining whether the country prospers or suffers in the coming decades.

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A business-as-usual approach would risk exposing Africa not only to economic underperformance and a brain drain but also to criminality, political and social unrest and even armed conflict.

Unfortunately, today, the thinking across the sweeping ranks is that rampant theft, corruption, immorality and mediocrity among leaders have violated the trust of the people.

Excited adventure, wild experimentation and moral self-abuse are the new social order. The very humanness of the people is under threat, hence proliferation of drug and substance abuse among the youth in the country.

But Malawi can thrive if the government acts now to tap the energy and dynamism of the burgeoning youth population.

What is needed is not just mere movements of security personnel from one station to the other but rather a comprehensive policy agenda, comprising demographically informed measures that address political, cultural and economic exclusion in a synchronised manner.

That way, the country would be able revive the culture of discipline, groom and sustain upright skilled human resources.

As at now, livelihood in the country has been compromised by inappropriate policies slowing down economic growth. Not only is growth unstable; it is out of line with population, especially the youth, hence pushing them to morality breakdown.

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