FG  Unfolds Strategies on Drug Use, Launch First Report

The Federal Government has launched the First report on National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The Survey would provide baseline information needed for the design and implementation of effective prevention, treatment and continuum of care services that are evidence based towards reducing the demand for drugs and preventing morbidity and mortality attributed to drug use in Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch held in Abuja recently, the Minister of State, Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said that there were serious health issues that required that the drug demand reduction strategies with focus on evidence based drug use Prevention, Treatment and Continuum of care be strengthened.

He explained that the report would provide an opportunity for findings from this survey to be fed into the 4th edition being proposed to set the priorities for drug control in Nigeria from 2020- 2024. Ehanire added that the results and data set from the survey could also be used for further research work to develop targeted programmes and services for drug users and their families.

The Minister informed that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), had established a Drug Demand Reduction Unit under the Department of Food and Drugs Services as part of its efforts to coordinate and implement strategies that would lead to evidence based drug prevention, treatment and care.

Commissioning the Unit earlier, Dr. Ehanire noted that the decision to establish the unit was in line with statutory mandate of the FMOH to protect and promote the health of Nigerians including persons with drug problems.

He pointed out that the Unit was equipped by European Union (EU) Funded project (Response to Drugs and Related Organized Crime) being implemented by the United Nation Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC).

He also said that the FMOH had upgraded 11 Hospitals to Model Drug Treatment Centres across the 6 Geo- Political zones of the country with the support of EU and UNODC.

Currently, the Minister hinted that with the support of UNODC, over 1200 Healthcare Practitioners had been trained across the country on provision of evidence based drug treatment services between 2015 and 2018, with 25 certified as National Master Trainers on Treatment Modules and Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC).

He emphasised that ‘’ the FMOH is developing a National Policy for Controlled Medicines in Nigeria, as part of measures to ensure that Pharmaceutical opioids and other controlled medicines are prescribed by licensed Physicians, dispensed by licensed Pharmacists in registered premises”

Dr. Ehanire lauded UNODC and EU for organizing and funding the project while reiterating the commitment of the Federal Government towards working with relevant MDAs, International Partners, CSO, among others in reversing the rising menace of drug abuse in Nigeria.

In her welcome address, the Director, Division of Operations, UNODC, Ms. Kato Miwu said that the UNODC would continue in its effort towards employing a balanced approach to drug control and increase access to drug treatment services across the nation.

In her presentation on the overview of the Survey, the Chief, Research and Trend Analysis Branch, UNODC, Ms. Angela Me, said that based on data collected from 38,850 respondents in the household survey and 9,344 high risk drug users across all states of the country the report provides for the first time, robust data on the prevalence of drug use in Nigeria.

According to Ms Me ‘’the report shows that there is a gap in meeting the needs for treatment and care for people with drug use disorders. With close to 3 Million Nigerians living with some level of drug dependence, the extremely limited availability of drug counselling and treatment services exacerbates this health crisis”

In his remarks, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Elimination of Drug Abuse,( PACEDA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, appreciated the efforts of EU,UNODC, FMOH and other stakeholders for conducting the Survey. He further said that the Survey would effectively reduce drug abuse in Nigeria.

Mrs. Boade Akinola

Director, Media and Public Relations