Namibia: Growing Substance Abuse a Big Concern

(File photo).

The subdivision Substance Abuse, Prevention, Drug Control and Rehabilitation of the Ministry of Health and Social Services commemorated the annual international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking last week in Tses, a village 80km outside Keetmanshoop.

Officiating at the event, Geraldine Kanyinga, a chief social worker in the Ministry of Health and Social Services said that drug abuse is a complex problem at the intersection of public health, safety and social issues.

"It takes a heavy toll on our families and communities, claiming more than half a million lives, worldwide, every year," said the chief social worker.

She said the health ministry joined the rest of the world in commemorating the day under the theme 'Health for Justice - Justice for Health.' She mentioned social inclusion, building resilience as well as rehabilitation as instrumental elements in preventing crime and violence.

"The sombre reality, however, is that the substance abuse phenomenon is growing at a rate that cannot be matched by the services to prevent and treat problems stemming from this abuse," she emphasized.

Kanyinga added that families, schools and communities plays a vital role especially by supporting the youth who may be affected by drug abuse resulting in terrible and long-lasting consequences.

The health professional called on the general public to "work with and for our people to prevent drug abuse and help people lead healthier lives and navigate life's choices with strength and resilience."

She regards cooperation in the fields of health and justice as essential in terms of ensuring that responses include vulnerable communities like youth and women.

"Furthermore, these services should fight discrimination and promote alternatives to imprisonment and expulsion from school for adults and children with drug use disorders," said Kanyinga.

Kanyinga urged people to show their commitment to fulfil their promise to ensure health and justice for all.

"Let us aim to protect people's security and well-being, while striving for the progress and dignity of all."

A Namibia school based health survey carried out in 2013 shows that 58 percent of the respondents indicated the use of alcohol. It further implies that 48 percent of students used drugs prior to attaining the age of 14 years and that 58 percent of them first tried a cigarette by that time.

According to a ministerial synthesis it has been reported that 40 percent of learners were of the opinion that drug abuse by their parents caused harm to them.

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