This year’s World Drug Day aimed at sensitising Ghanaians on the hazards of drug abuse and its effects on the development of the country was observed on Sunday.
The annual event held on June, 26, attracted stakeholders including doctors, experts and peer educators.
It was organised by the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB).
Speaking on the theme, “Listen First: Drug Prevention among the youth and children”, Mrs. Victoria Esinam Assah-Offei, the Greater Accra Regional Commander of NACOB, called on parents to pay attention to their children while they attended to their duties.
The children, according to her get information from other people which mostly were negative, saying, “these children only want to be heard in order to put their issues across”.
That, she indicated, made children develop confidence in their friends and if care was not taken, could lead them to engage in social vices.
On the effects of drug abuse on the youth, Mrs. Assah-Offei said it leads to armed robbery, stealing, and demolition of property.
Mrs. Assah-Offei, who is also the Deputy Narcotics Analyst revealed that her outfit was going to concentrate on prevention measures, adding that, government spent thousands of cedis to fight the menace.
She advised the youth to read their books and use the right channel to solve their issues when they faced challenges.
“I appeal to the youth to concentrate on their studies and pass their exams and become responsible citizens in the future”, she stressed.
Pastor Kingsley Kwayisi of the Calvary Baptist Church (CBC) noted that the family was under attack because of the negative advice children got from their friends.
“Children get identity elsewhere when parents fail to have time for them and this is worrisome,” he bemoaned and urged the drug controlling agency to put measures in place to manage the issue of drug abuse.
From Hwidenm, Daniel Dzirasah reports that the Brong Ahafo Regional Head of the Narcotics Control Board, Mr Felix Sarfo, has advised students to stay away from drugs in order to secure their future.
He said abuse of narcotic drugs has serious consequences for their progress and future development, explaining that they could be arrested and prosecuted.
He was speaking at a durbar for students of Hwidiem Senior High School to mark this year’s World Drug Day on the theme; “Listen First; Drug Prevention among the Youth and Children” in the region.
He mentioned that drugs such as tramadol (used to treat moderate and severe pain) and “Wee” were being abused on an alarming rate by students and called on the Pharmacy Council to ensure that such drugs are removed from the system.
According to him, the Pharmacy Council which has the mandate and supervisory role to check and prevent the supply of the tramadol in the system had failed to restrain their members from selling the drug over the counter although a report was made to them.
He said it was illegal to sell such a drug in the country without the prescription and monitoring of a doctor but it was being sold in almost all medical stores in Ghana.
Mr.Sarfo said as part of the celebration, 96 institutions including churches and 42 schools in the Asutifi district and other parts of the region have been sensitised on the dangers illicit drugs posed to families and society.
He observed that most parents have little information about the extent of exposures their wards have in relation to illicit drugs and that majority of them were aware of the various illicit drugs and where they could get them but lacked the knowledge about its long term effects
The revelation, he noted, had compelled the Regional Command to start the formation of drug awareness clubs at both basic and second cycle schools in some selected districts and municipalities in the region.
Mr. Sarfo also announced that the Command during the third quarter of this year, would launch two separate operations, dubbed “Operation drug free zones” and “Operation get ready to run” respectively in an effort to reduce the incidence of illicit drug trafficking and abuse in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Justice Samuel Adjei, on his part said the fight against drugs was a shared responsibility of all but not to be left to the government and the law enforcement agencies.
He stressed the need for the strengthening of family, social and religious values, adding that “parents and teachers have critical roles to check the usage of illicit drugs among the youth”.
From Ashaiman Godfred Blay Gibbah, reports that the Deputy Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr. Isaac Nii Djangmah Vanderpuye, has urged district assemblies and land owners to reserve land for recreational purposes in their planning schemes.
That, he said, would encourage the youth take part in sports and recreation in their communities and make it difficult for bad people to lure them into the use of drugs and involve themselves in social vices.
Speaking at a programme organised at the weekend, here, by the Greater Accra Regional branch of the Narcotics Control Board in collaboration with the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly to mark World Drug Day, Nii Vanderpuye said the lack of recreational facilities in communities contributed to the youth experimenting in all manner of things some of which could be detrimental to their wellbeing.
It was on the theme: “Listen First: Drug Prevention among the Youth and Children”.
Nii Vanderpuye also urged assemblies to invest in sports to unearth talents for the country.
He expressed concern about the growing use of narcotic drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin among the youth and its destructive effect on them, noting that areas such as Nima, Ga Mashie, Zongo all in Accra and Ashaiman were notorious for land guards due to the incidence of drug abuse.
Nii Vanderpuye therefore called for concerted efforts between NACOB, the Assemblies, the Ghana Education Service and the National AIDS Control programme towards creating awareness aimed at stemming the tide.
He also called for vigilance among member states of ECOWAS to prevent the trafficking of illicit drugs.
The Municipal Chief Executive of Ashaiman, Mr. Ibrahim Baidoo, said the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly would continue to collaborate with the Police and other security agencies to prevent the trafficking and use of illicit drugs.
The Greater Accra Regional Commander of NACOB, Victoria Esinam Assah-Offei, was worried that some bad people in a bid to create drug use habits among young ones laced sweets such as toffees and biscuits with Indian hemp for sale.
She condemned the practice and urged members of the communities to assist the police to weed out offenders.
An inmate of House of St. Francis, a rehabilitation centre, in a testimony, said his involvement in drugs destroyed his health, education and life, and therefore advised the youth to abstain from the use of drugs.
Students from Ashaiman Senior High School performed a sketch while NACOB mounted an exhibition on the effects of drugs and methods used in trafficking drugs at the ceremony.
By Luther King Owusu-Amoah