Leaders at the Coast and drug addicts are sharply divided about a government plan to introduce free needles and syringes to prevent the spread of HIV.
Those against the plan say providing injecting drug users with needles will only promote more drug use. They say the programme is tantamount to legalising drug use.
Those for the plan say the users are sharing needles and reinfecting each other with the virus that causes AIDS, thus leading to the dual problem of addiction and disease.
This debate is healthy. One important thing the proposal has managed to do is bring out the issue of rampant drug addition mainly at the Coast, so that the public can have a healthy discussion about it.
The free needles idea is well founded. People addicted to drugs will not stop injecting themselves just because they cannot find a clean needle. They will continue to share needles. On the other hand, non-drug users will not suddenly start taking drugs just because there are some needles readily available for free.
As much as we cannot give people tools to use for self destruction, it could also be argued that while free needles will not provide a solution to the drug problem, the addicts should not increase their chances of death by contracting diseases. Rehabilitation should be given a chance in a clean, safer environment than most addicts currently find themselves.
Thus the free needles programme should go hand in hand with rehabilitation efforts where the addicts are encouraged to enroll in centres and where they will be treated with dignity.
Quote of the day: "What this country needs is more unemployed politicians." - African American civil rights activist Angela Davis was found not guilty of murder, kidnapping, and criminal conspiracy on June 4, 1972.