A comprehensive high-level session focused on addressing drug abuse and associated mental health disorders in Africa culminated in the development of strategic approaches aimed at eradicating drug abuse across the continent.
Olubusayo Akinola, the Head of Social Welfare Drug Control and Crime Prevention, announced the collective agreement of member states to facilitate a multisectoral approach for drug demand reduction services. These services will be established through national drug control bodies, treatment services, and within social care systems.
Delivering the outcome document of the high-level session, Dr. Akinola stressed the importance of implementing a National Drug Epistemological Surveillance Network, in addition to reinforcing police efforts in drug control within member states.
Furthermore, member states committed to advocating for the integration of a drug prevention curriculum within mass media and relevant national social media platforms. This strategic curriculum aims to disseminate information from the national drug epidemiological network and the decisions of the National Drug Control body.
Akinola emphasized the establishment and operation of national networks involving traditional and religious leadership to facilitate the implementation of national drug control action plans. This move intends to engage these influential bodies in combating drug abuse.
Additionally, cultural and sports leaders were urged to promote healthy lifestyles and discourage alcohol and drug use, as their influence in the arts and music industries significantly impacts the interpretation of these substances by young individuals.
It was highlighted that member states must establish specialized drug treatment facilities catering specifically to children, offering evidence-based quality services. Investing in safeguarding communities from the harmful effects of drugs was also strongly recommended.
Moreover, member states were urged to develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate public policies aimed at reducing the harmful use of alcohol in alignment with the principles and objectives of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Alcohol Action Plan 2022-2030.
The reinforcement of the role of women and the empowerment of youth and children was emphasized as critical elements in the prevention of substance use, as highlighted by Ms. Akainola.
“As we conclude this summit, we have collectively agreed on a series of strategies to combat drug abuse and mental health-related disorders that significantly impact our continent. Implementing these strategies is crucial to putting an end to this vice,” remarked Ms. Akainola, underlining the significance of adopting these measures to eradicate drug abuse in Africa.