Published On: Sun, Mar 30th, 2014

UNODC Boss, Obasanjo, Giade Take Campaign against Drug Consumption to Austria

By Oghenekevwe Laba
Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, former President of Nigeria and current Chair of West African Commission on Drugs (WACD), President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chairman/Chief Executive, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade have called for increased attention to health, drug abuse prevention and treatment in West Africa. This was disclosed at the just concluded 57th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) held in Vienna, Austria with highlight on impact of drug consumption on governance, security and development.
Mr. Fedotov said, “I would like to stress particularly the need of strengthening public health in a comprehensive, balanced, scientific evidence-based approach. There is urgent need to address demand and facilitate quality treatment and rehabilitation services”.

President Obasanjo highlighted the importance of stepping up actions to end drug-related user problems in the region. In his words, “drugs pose a serious threat to peace and security in West Africa. Organized crime syndicates use the region as a hub to transit drugs to other parts of the world. This development calls for funding to be more proportionately directed towards health, treatment and rehabilitation services, which are lacking”.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Ahmadu Giade also canvassed increased attention on health challenges of drug use. “We have observed the huge health challenge resulting from both local drug production and influx of drugs into West Africa. It is imperative for stakeholders to devote quality attention to the attendant health problems of illicit drug use. This can be addressed through improved funding, training of health care personnel and establishment of Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres” Giade stated.
NDLEA Chairman added that strengthening existing structures like WACD and West Africa Joint Operations (WAJO) will enhance the unity and capacity of member nations in confronting drug trafficking syndicates and ultimately prevent West Africa from being used as a drug hub.
Mr. Fedotov observed that “the trafficking of cocaine remains a serious challenge and there has been an increase in the amount of heroin trafficked into the region, especially since 2010. Methamphetamine production in West Africa is rising while trafficking of ephedrine is a matter of serious concern. Meanwhile, local drug use appears to have intensified, this has become an issue for public health and safety, with an attendant rise in the number of new HIV infections attributed to injecting drug use”.
WACD Commissioner Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou also emphasized the health repercussions of drugs in West Africa. “The region has historically been considered a transit destination, indications show that consumption is climbing, particularly among youth, as is the local production of drugs such as cannabis. With high levels of poverty and unemployment, more jobs are also needed as young people in particular might regard drug trafficking as an attractive income generating opportunity” Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud noted.
Resolutions passed by Member States cover such touchstone drug policy issues as alternative development, substance use disorders, new psychoactive substances, ensuring adequate services for drug abusers and evidence-based drug use prevention.

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