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NDLEA Sensitized Over a Hundred Students on Effects of Drug Abuse.

By Yesirat Abiola

As part of the war against Illicit drug and substance abuse, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has sensitized over one hundred students, alongside relevant agencies on the health implications of drug and substance abuse.

Held at Apapa area of Lagos State, the sensitization was the grand finale of a series of activity organised by the Agency to mark this  year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.

Speaking on the the theme of the programme  “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises, the
NDLEA’s  Chief Executive Officer, retired Brigadier-General Buba Marwa pointed out that the National Drug Use and Health Survey 2018 revealed an estimated three hundred and seventy-six high-risk drug users in the country, of which one in every five persons injects drugs.

Gen. Marwa who was represented by the Apapa Special area Commander, Commandant Ameh Inalegwu, said with a total of eighty thousand People Who Inject Drugs, the risk of the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases was high and this in turn raises the stake of a public health crisis.

“We need to foster a climate of knowledge, tolerance and understanding that will allow drug users to take advantage of treatment without fear of any prejudice”  As most of us in this room have come to know today, that drug addiction is a health problem affecting the brain, the public also needs to know this and throw away archaic prejudices” “It is to this end that President Muhammadu Buhari launched the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign at this same venue exactly a year ago” The strategic importance of WADA cannot be overemphasized, because it serves multiple purposes that aid the attainment of our objectives, from enlightenment as a pathway to drug use prevention to the reorientation of the masses as a means to the eradication of stigmatisation and discrimination of drug users, among other objectives”

According to the NDLEA Boss, the National Drug Use Survey afforded Nigeria the baseline information needed for the design and implementation of effective prevention, treatment and care services capable of reducing the demand for drugs and also prevent the morbidity and mortality attributable to drug use.

Gen. Marwa who highlighted some of the challenges confronting victims of drug abuse to include cost of treatment and stigmatization, explained that this year’s theme has provided the impetus to break down those barriers and pave way for unhindered treatment of health concerns related to drug use

“Building treatment facilities is a good step, but it can be rendered inefficient because of the challenge of access that is inherent in a climate of stigmatisation where someone labelled “ a drug addict” is treated as a social pariah.

“To scale this hurdle, we embarked on building a toll-free  NDLEA Call Centre.This project due to be commissioned on Thursday 30th June, 2022, will run as a 24/7 call centre with a helpline that can be called by drug users who need help but are afraid of stigmatisation or do not know how to get help. They will be able to call toll-free and get to speak with experts such as counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists among others”

“The call centre will eliminate the obstacles standing in the way of those that genuinely need help as we will be guaranteeing them the confidentiality they need.”
” Similarly, the toll-free number, 0800-10203040, and the website, ndleahelpline.com.ng, will help the public to pass valuable information, report incidents and ask for help”. 

In a lecture titled ” Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crisis” the guest speaker, Dr. Wale Ige of the National Management Institute, noted that banditry, kidnapping, robbery, rape and other social vices have  direct link to drug and substance abuse.

He said the devastating health effects ranged from kidney damage, liver disease, throat cancer to mental illness.

Dr. Ige who explained that the media has a vital role to play in the war against illicit drug trafficking, called for periodic sensitization of the youths and more synergy among NDLEA, Port operators, Shippers Council,  Parents, Community and religious leaders for the country to win the war against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking.

“NDLEA is arresting perpetrators, yet people are still engaging in different type of drug abuse and drug trafficking” ” The media has a vital role to play, do more of investigative Journalism, find out while the youths and particularly women engage in use of illicit drugs” “The way out is by collaboration, more partnerships and periodic sensitization”

Some of the students who applauded NDLEA for the opportunity to be part of the programme, described it as an eye opener.

” We learnt that addiction and taking unprescribed drugs is  bad” “I just learnt that abuse of drugs and other substances are dangerous to our health “

The programme drew stakeholders from different sectors including Health, Maritime, Education, Immigration, the Military, Transportation sector, as well as Community and Religious Leaders, Parents and Guardians.

The climax of the event was a  stage drama by Youth Corpers from Apapa Local Government area.

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