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Whole of government approach adopted in fighting drug abuse

Story by Bruce Chahwanda, Political Editor

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says a whole of government approach is being utilised to create a healthy and secure nation free from illicit drugs and substance abuse.

He was speaking at the launch of the Zimbabwe Multi-Sectoral Drug and Substance Abuse Plan at State House in Harare this Wednesday.

Government is taking the drugs and substance abuse fight head-on with various interventions being adopted to deal with the consumption and distribution of illicit drugs.

Launching the country’s Multi-Sectoral Drug and Substance Abuse Plan, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said a whole-of-government approach is being employed in tackling drug and substance abuse, “This scourge knows no bounds. It is affecting all socio-economic levels and across religious groupings, destroying lives and families. This public health concern is further undermining the social fabric of our beautiful nation, particularly the youth who are productive segments of our economy.”

Global trends indicate that the abuse of drugs and harmful substances results in 3.3 million deaths each year, with at least 15.3 million persons having drug use disorders.

As a result, approximately 60% of patients admitted to mental health institutions suffer from drug use disorders.

The data confirms the extent of the problem at a global scale.

Unfortunately, Zimbabwe being part of the global world, has not been spared.

“My Government is taking decisive actions using a whole-of-government and society approach. The nation’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic taught us many lessons we must harness as we tackle this scourge,” said the President.

The Head of State said the plan offers a road map with a thrust to improve the health of the nation, adding the country’s security remains on high alert.

“This Plan provides us with a detailed roadmap that will guide our nation’s response to drug and substance abuse comprehensively and collaboratively. The thrust of the plan is to improve the health and security of Zimbabweans as enshrined in its vision of, “A Healthy and Secure Nation Free From Illicit Drugs and Substances.

“As outlined, we are committed to supporting multi-stakeholder engagement and actions across the whole government and different sectors through targeted and collaborative interventions. The S=seven critical pillars tabulated in the plan should result in supply reduction; demand reduction; harm reduction, treatment, and rehabilitation; as well as psychosocial support and community reintegration. Greater coordination around policy and legal enforcement; media and communication, supported by resource mobilisation and economic strengthening must accelerate the realisation of visible results.

The development of this Multi-Sectoral Drug and Substance Abuse Plan was a result of a collaborative effort. It is a true reminder of what we can achieve when we work together towards a common goal,” he said.

President Mnangagwa expressed government commitment to the establishment of the National Drug Agency which will be aligned with regional and international objectives.

“My Government has since committed to establishing a National Drug Agency. The Agency will provide high-level strategic leadership, coordinate the implementation of the Drug and Substance Abuse Plan, and promote multi-sectoral actions aligned with national priorities. Further, it will be tasked with ensuring alignment with regional and international frameworks within our country.

“It is commendable that the plan is aligned with our National Development Strategy. The reality is that, as our society edges closer to the realisation of Vision 2030, we must be proactive and prevent the degeneration of our family norms, cultural values, and national identity. As we become a prosperous and empowered society, it is important to remain grounded on our rich identity as Zimbabwean and African people. We must be deliberate in protecting our children and young people,” he explained.

The launch of the Zimbabwe Multi-Sectoral Drug and Substance Abuse Plan 2024-2030 has coincided with the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day.

The youth dividend is mostly involved in drug and substance abuse, hence calls for a multi-sectoral approach in the fight against the vice for a healthy nation.
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