National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Nigeria Customs Service, amongst other stakeholders in the health sector, have vowed to collaborate in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking, and use, and in curbing related organised crime.
They made the pledge on Thursday in Lagos at the launch and dissemination of the 2022 annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and precursors report 2022.
The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, described narcotics and psychotropic substances as indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering and that they are controlled within the framework of the three international conventions as they possess abuse liability and produce dependence on users.
"They are classified not on chemical nature but on the potential for abuse and the need for medical use of the substance", she said, adding that one of the control objectives is to ensure availability solely for medical and scientific uses while minimizing the possibility of diversion to illicit channels and abuse.
In order to ensure adequate availability of controlled medicines, the NAFDAC boss disclosed that the agency in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health carried out two quantifications of narcotics and estimation of psychotropic substances and precursors in 2017 and 2019.
She said the results of these surveys provide the evidenced-based estimation of our national annual requirements of these substances and enable the country to develop measures to achieve that delicate balance between access and control.
"According to the 2018 National Drug Use Survey, the prevalence of any drug use was 14.4 per cent or 14.3 million people between the age of 15 and 64 years", she said, noting that this is comparatively high compared with the 2016 global annual prevalence of 5.6 per cent among the adult population.
Adeyeye pointed out that the challenges arising from drug supply and consumption are not restricted to people who use drugs but have wider health, social and economic consequences on the family, community, and country.
The report, she stated further, revealed that cannabis is the most commonly used drug, stressing that an estimated 10.8 per cent of the population or 10.6 million people, had used cannabis in the past year with the average age of initiation of cannabis use among the general population put at 19 years.