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Nigeria drug use prevalence rises to 14.3 million ― Report

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The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates the prevalence of drug use in Nigeria at 14.4% corresponding to 14.3 million people between the ages of 15 to 64.

This is about three times more than the 2017 global prevalence of 5.6% among the adult population.

The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora in his speech at the Ministerial Press Briefing on the Dangers of Non-Medical Use of Opoid Substances of Abuse in Abuja said there is a need for improved surveillance to reduce access to unlicensed prescription medicines such as Tramadol and Codeine containing preparations. Infiltration of these substances into the country must be prevented.

Mamora said the Federal Ministry of Health is paying special attention to the issue of drug-use disorders and related health conditions as a major public health concern despite the challenges.

The Ministry has therefore taken several steps to tackle these issues, some of which include: establishment of a Drug Demand Reduction Unit in the Ministry to coordinate and implement evidence-based strategies for drug prevention, treatment and continuum of care.

“Through the EU-Funded Project, Response to Drugs and Related Organized Crime, the Ministry has upgraded 11 hospitals as Model Drug Treatment Centres across the 6 geo-political zones of the country, seven (7) of which are designated as Regional Training Centres for drug dependence treatment.”

“Training of over 1,500 health care practitioners in the provision of evidence-based drug treatment services. In addition, the Ministry monitors the regular collection, collation and analysis of drug treatment data to determine drug use trends that can influence programme and policy interventions.

“Rolling out by the FMOH a Harm Reduction Programme. The programme was instituted to prevent the transmission of blood-borne viruses and other infections spread by Injection Drug Use (IDU) and restore normalcy to the lives of People Who Inject Drugs (PWIDs), making them productive members of the society.”

Mamora further disclosed that Nigeria has joined the big league of nations that have the full complement of services that are combating, halting and reversing the adverse effects of illicit drug use.

“The Ministry is also promoting the implementation of the National Policy for Controlled Medicines and its Implementation Strategies.”

“This policy ensures sustained availability and accessibility to controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes while preventing diversion. It is also expected to promote rational prescribing, dispensing and use of controlled medicines in Nigeria.”

“We have also developed National Guidelines for Quantification of Narcotic Medicines and Estimation of Psychotropic Substances.”

“The Guidelines enabled us to conduct the second National Survey on Quantification of Controlled Medicines in 2019 which revealed a realistic estimate of the controlled medicine needs for medical and scientific purposes in the country.”

Mamora added that the Narcotics and Drug Abuse Programme in the Ministry was upgraded to a full-fledged Division in the Department of Food and Drug Services to coordinate activities that promote sustained availability of essential pain medication and curb the rising menace of non-medical use of opioid pharmaceuticals among the adult population in the country.

“These efforts, although laudable, are inadequate in tackling the current challenges of drug use and drug use disorders faced by the Nation.”

“If the future of our country is to be guaranteed and her health security assured, it is imperative that we collectively, honestly and critically review the socio-cultural, economic and legal factors that have in one way or the other contributed to this epidemic.”

“In addition, we must continue to create an environment that discourages people from seeing drug use as an alternative or solution to their problems.”

“Quality and affordable free basic education should be provided and communities empowered to legally and economically contribute to the pre-school education of children.

“Efforts to diversify the economy towards creating job opportunities and wealth should be intensified to engage our young ones.

“Finally, while appreciating all stakeholders who have been working tirelessly to address the issues of drug trafficking and abuse in our country, our coming together at this point to address the menace of drug abuse from all fronts is a welcome development and should be sustained.”

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