Government says families need to play an active role in curbing the increased cases of drug abuse among young people in the country.
Minister of Home Affairs Steven Kampyongo said parents and guardians need to take up responsibility and find time to monitor, discuss and counsel children on the dangers of drug related matters.
Mr Kampyongo said this when he officiated at the commemoration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Lusaka today.
The commemoration which drew participation of hundreds of school children from across Lusaka district was held under the theme “Health for Justice, Justice for Health”.
Mr Kampyongo urged children not to relent but ensure that they seek audience and engage their parents on drug related activities.
The minister counselled the children against indulging in drugs as it will destroy their lives and future.
Mr Kampyongo said government will work towards giving children a voice in the fight against illicit drug abuse and trafficking and ensure that policy makers and people in leadership listen to their concerns.
The minister paid glowing tribute to teachers whom she described as second parents, and urged them to continue providing parental guidance to pupils at school in addition to providing education.
He said government remains committed to strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse such as drugs and alcohol which the United Nations has classified as a sustainable development goal target.
And Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) Commissioner Alita Mbahwe bemoaned the increasing numbers of children involved in drug abuse and rehabilitation in the country.
Ms Mbahwe stated that last year, 395 youths aged between seven and seventeen years were arrested for drug abuse, and had to go through drug counselling.
She disclosed that the most of the drugs abused by young people are cannabis and heroin due to their availability and low price on the market.
Ms Mbahwe appealed to stakeholders to work with the commission towards addressing the spiralling drug abuse problem among the youths, adding that the fight against drug abuse cannot be left to government alone.
The DEC Commissioner further noted that there is also need for government to build a rehabilitation centre to be accessed by victims who cannot afford private drug rehabilitation services.
Ms Mbahwe said DEC will continue with its raids of townships, in the quest to bust up drug rings and rid the country of drug abusers.
And United Nations Resident Coordinator Coumba Mar Gardio said the international community remains determined to address and counter the drug problem which has become an increasingly bigger global problem.
Dr Gardio commended the commission for its innovative strategies in addressing and enforcing the law on drug abuse, trafficking and money laundering crimes.
She said the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes will continue to support Zambia’s agenda against drug abuse, in order to make the country a safe heritage and promote balanced health and rights for everyone, especially the young people.