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NGOs call for data on drug abuse

Mpembe said drug and substance abuse was high among youths who are susceptible to pressure and eagerness to experience new things.

LIMITED dissemination of statistical data by governmental institutions is contributing to the rise in drug and substance abuse cases as it leads to poor decision-making processes.

Speaking at the Accountability Lab Zimbabwe (ALZ) policy discussion on drug and substance abuse, Civil Liberties and Drugs Network (ZCLDN) programmes officer, Knowledge Mpembe, said the scourge was rife in urban areas.

Mpembe said drug and substance abuse was high among youths who are susceptible to pressure and eagerness to experience new things.

“The people from poor and unstable backgrounds are the most affected by drug and substance abuse. Another reason why young people are the most affected by drug abuse is that they are more susceptible to peer-pressure and are eager to experience new things,” Mpembe said.

“So, despite the growing evidence that is on the ground, whereby we are saying there has been an increase in drug and substance abuse among young people, there is little being done to reduce the scourge.

“The prevalence as I mentioned is in urban areas, Zimbabwe has not done an official population size estimate on drug and substance abuse. We only have evidence in academic articles and newspapers.

He said more than 50% of admissions recorded at Zimbabwe’s top mental health institutes were related to drug abuse with more than 80% of the patients aged between 16 and 40 years of age.

Civic Action Team programmes officer Tinotenda Chishiri said government needed to collaborate with private organisations when crafting laws.

“Parliamentarians are representatives, but we can come up with platforms on the ground, where policies can be made from there,” she said.

“The ministry has been failing to update in terms of statistics. Without that information it is very difficult to have patterns and trends, like the number of rehabilitation centres needed to help drug users.”

According to ZCLDN, one in every three houses has a drug-related challenge. This comes amid calls by non-governmental organisations to name all the drugs which are currently circulating to help the government when adjusting drug stipulations.

Meanwhile, legislators who attended the ALZ policy discussion committed to proposing new adjustments on drug and criminal laws to curb the scourge.

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