Drug abuse fight needs collective effort: Experts

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BY CATHERINE MUCHIRI/VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI

GOVERNMENT has been urged to collaborate with community-based organisations and other stakeholders to fight drug abuse which is now rampant among the youth.

On Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched an anti-drug abuse campaign, where he described the scourge as cancerous.

Legal expert Takunda Mtetwa, who is also executive director for Ezer Trust, an organisation that counsels young people on drugs, yesterday told NewsDay that there was need for stakeholder engagement to effectively fight drug abuse in the country.

Mtetwa said the youth constituted around 67,7% of the population, while the drug abuse rate stood at 57%.

“Something needs to be done fast and this can only be attained by working together as a country. Community-based organisations understand the situation on the ground as through their anti-drug campaigns, they work with drug addicts who have been left with no one to turn to due to inefficient public facilities,” he said.

Mtetwa said society should identify and address the risk factors.

“The government needs to set up a specific enforcement administration for fighting drug peddling as it’s quite worrisome how some peddlers work under the disguise of running tuckshops in the residential areas. Most drug peddlers are known in the society and it is government’s responsibility through its law enforcers to arrest such culprits,” he said.

Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said: “The country as a whole needs to prioritise prevention of drug abuse and tackle the drivers of drug abuse. The root causes of drug abuse in Zimbabwe are lack of jobs and enterprise opportunities, recreation facilities and opportunities for youth to participate in decisions affecting their lives. Most young people have a lot of idle time with nothing productive to do, resulting in them experimenting and indulging in harmful drugs to suppress anxiety.”

Youth Against Alcohol and Drug Dependency executive director Tungamirai Zimonte urged government to create more employment opportunities to discourage youths from engaging in drug abuse.

Economic Justice for Women Project said women should be prioritised in the fight against drug abuse.

“The contemporary status of young women in Zimbabwe reflects the increased socioeconomic inequality gaps and the minimal focus on corruption and partisan abuse of power in public resource distribution which has impacted the provision of adequate social service delivery which reflects on the socioeconomic status of the young people,” the organisation said.

“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should facilitate young women’s access to education and enlighten them on drug abuse and its consequences, while the Ministry of Finance should give socio-economic support to young women and end drug trafficking.”

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