The Deputy Regional Commander for the Narcotics Control Board, NACOB, Mr Charles Kanneo, has revealed that the illicit sale and abuse of Tramadol in the Upper West Region has reduced drastically.
This is because peddlers were no longer able to embark on their illegal activities in the market places like they used to.
Although there are no specific statistics to back his claim, the Deputy Commander said the region had not recorded any deaths or severe health conditions from the abuse of the drug as had been the case.
The sale of tramadol by unregistered drug peddlers who moved from one market to the other or in the communities became a source of worry to the board some three years ago as their nefarious activities made the drug readily available to unsuspecting consumers who believed it increased their energy levels.
Mr Kanneo stated this in interview with the Ghanaian Times on the sidelines of a meeting at Wa to mark the regional version of the World Drug Day on Thursday.
He added that the issue which escalated in 2017 demanded immediate attention as every over-the-counter pharmacy had the drug and sold them to people without medical prescription.
“Under the leadership of the then regional minister, Mr Alhassan Suleman, we formed a collaborative committee comprising the Food and Drugs Authority, the Regional Police Command, the Pharmaceutical council in the region and NACOB to embark on sensitisation across the board,’ he intimated and said the sensitisation took them to every part of the region where they educated indigenes on the dangers of abusing the drug and also refuted claims that it gave the user strength to work tirelessly.
“We arrested the peddlers and counseled them because many of them did not even know the dangers of the drug they were selling nor did they have any idea that it was illegal to sell them.
“All they knew was that the particular drug sold faster and brought in more revenue so there was no need to jail them,” he explained and said they were however cautioned that if they did not quit and were arrested a second time, they would be jailed.
Touching on the theme for the celebration, “Health for justice, justice for health,” Mr Kanneo added his voice to the call for the decriminalisation of the abuse of drugs and said it would help in the rehabilitation of addicted persons.
For his part, a mental health nurse in charge of the regional hospital psychiatry unit, Mr Isaac Niebabora in an interview stated that drug addiction should be treated as a health condition and not a crime.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA