Nigeria Targets Unified Approach to Tackle Drug Abuse Prevalence

By Joke Kujenya

NIGERIA’S DRUG problem poses a complex challenge with profound impacts on individuals, families, society, and the nation.

To address this issue effectively, the Federal Government is shifting towards increased collaboration with relevant ministries, agencies, development partners, and stakeholders, moving away from the fragmented approach currently in place.

The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is preparing to host a ministerial conference aimed at uniting all stakeholders to rethink the prevention and control of psychoactive substances in the country.

This was announced by the Coordinating Minister, Muhammad Pate, during a ministerial press briefing in Abuja, commemorating the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Represented by Permanent Secretary Daju Kachollom, Pate highlighted the 2024 theme, “The evidence is clear: Invest in prevention,” as timely, aligning with the government’s focus on drug abuse prevention and enhanced stakeholder cooperation to achieve a drug-free Nigeria.

He cited the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which estimated a drug use prevalence of 14.4%, translating to 14.3 million people aged 15-64, and noted that about 2.5 million drug-related deaths occur annually in Nigeria.

These alarming statistics underscore the need for intensified efforts, as drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions.

Pate also outlined the government’s initiatives, including policy development and implementation, and the ongoing upgrade of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, Neuro-psychiatric hospitals, Federal Medical Centres (FMCs), and rehabilitation centers to improve treatment access for at-risk individuals.

Despite these strides, the ministry remains committed to working with stakeholders to minimize drug abuse while safeguarding individual rights and maintaining cultural sensitivity.

He lauded the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s (NDLEA) efforts in controlling psychoactive substances and urged all Nigerians to join the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, emphasizing the government’s dedication to creating a society that values health, well-being, and dignity for all.

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