DRUG abuse is now a humanitarian disaster that is inflicting harm to the young generation, perpetuating violence and poverty especially among the low-income and vulnerable communities, health stakeholders have said.
Speaking to NewsDay, Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike, said there is need to focus on social support structures.
“We can only solve our current problems that have resulted in the surging drug abuse, overdose and deaths through a public health approach. The government should invest in proven services and care to address substance abuse and mental health needs,” he said.
Rusike said there is need to also invest in youth-friendly drug rehabilitation and counselling services instead of placing the burden of care on families who lack information and tools to respond to the scourge.
“Families should get greater support from government and other stakeholders to promote communication and to help those facing drug abuse challenges. We need to prioritise prevention of drug abuse and tackle the drivers of drug abuse.
“The root cause of drug abuse in Zimbabwe is lack of jobs and enterprise opportunities, recreation facilities and opportunities for young people to participate in decisions affecting their lives,” said Rusike.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said government would come up with tougher laws to deter drug dealers from preying on youths.
For Youths by Youths team leader, Wilbert Jena, said there was need to continue raising awareness against drug and substance use through different strategies including youth friendly strategies.
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“There is a need to capacitate health professionals on drug use disorders and overdose at local clinics since it's the first port of call. Overdose prevention kits should be made easily available in local and provincial hospitals,” he said. Last week, the country joined the world in commemorating the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
On Friday, For Youths By Youths in partnership with other stakeholders commemorated the International Day Against Drug Abuse and illicit Trafficking in Mbare.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate that over 500 000 deaths occur annually due to drug and substance use worldwide.