-As NAPharm holds symposium to tackle the menace
Worried by the alarming rate of drug and substance abuse in the country, which is fast becoming a normal lifestyle among the youth population, the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm) has called for urgent steps to be taken towards addressing the issue, else all efforts geared towards a higher political and economic pedestal, may be futile.
The Chairman, NAPharm Committee on Drug and Substance Abuse, Dr Lolu Ojo, noted while addressing a press conference on Monday that Nigeria has 10.6 users of cannabis, 4.6 users of pharmaceutical opiods, 238,000 amphetamine users, with an overall 14.4 million Nigerians between the ages of 15years and 64 years, depending on one drug or the other.
Still analysing how deep the nation has sunk into drug and substance abuse, he said hardly can one find a canteen on the street that does not mix Indain hemp with its vegetable soup, or a confectionary, where cannabis is not mixed with their cakes for the innocent customers to consume.
“The most amazing set of people involved in this heinous acts are children and women, as statistics has it that 1 out of every drug user is a woman, and there are unconfirmed reports that the age of drug use has gone down to seven years or even slightly below, which means that children in primary schools are already involve.
“We wish to sound a note of warning that this challenge may even be much more than the current official estimates at our disposal, and we will request that the nation should be aware of the ‘iceberg phenomenon’, that this subject may present before us. There is practically no major city in Nigeria that does not have hideouts or joints or ram-shackles where the young ones gather to buy or use drugs of different descriptions to feel good”, he stated.
Dr Ojo, who stressed the need for all hands to be on deck to rid the nation of this menace, said this explained why the Academy is putting up a symposium to raise awareness on the menace of drug and substance abuse in the country. He said different activities are lined up for the programme, which commenced with the press conference, then there will be a 1000 – man sensitisation awareness walk, on Monday 10 June, from Allen Avenue/Obafemi Awolowo Way Roundabout to Ikeja under the bridge.
Then he stated that the main event will take place on Tuesday 11 June, 2019, at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers with the theme: Sustainable Approach to Eradicate Drug and Substance Abuse in Nigeria”, while the keynote speaker will be Dr Martins Agwogie, the CEO of Global Initiative on Substance Abuse.
According to him, the symposium will also feature a panel discussion involving the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa;President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Dr Francis Faduyile; President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) Dr Taiwo Lateef Sheikh, while Dr (Mrs) Dere Awosika will moderate the discussion.
Also speaking at the press briefing was the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Pharm. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, highlighted factors driving drug and substance abuse, which are socio-economic challenges and the presence of open drug markets. He explained that majority of people who use drugs indiscriminately do it to escape from economic and social realities, while open drug markets enhance the circulation of drugs without control.
He said that is why the government is working towards the creation of a legal market, which is the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) for the circulation of authentic drugs, with pharmacists in charge of the distribution to all drugs to caregivers.
The PSN President also identified failure in parenthood as one of the factors allowing the menace to fester, while he called on all parents to wake up to their roles, and cease from franchising the parenting of their children to teachers and Sunday School teachers.
For Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy, Cecilia Igwilo, the call to true parenthood by the PSN President was apt, because if parents will demand more from their children through proper monitoring and caring, we would have less cases of drug abuse at hand.
She also made an appeal to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to sign the Pharmacy Bill into law, saying if this is done, it will aid the control of illegal drug circulation in the country.