Dr Matthew Ashkeni, a top FCT official has urged parents, guardians, and care-givers to pay close attention to their children and wards to curb drug abuse among youths.
Ashkeni, the Director, Special Duties, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat made the call in an interview with our correspondent on the sidelines of an event held in Abuja to mark the 2023 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
The FCT official described the theme of this year’s celebration “People First Stop Stigma and Discremination, Strengthen Prevention”, as a wake up call for all stakeholders to understand that all hands must be on deck for the fight against drug abuse and trafficking in illicit drugs.
He emphasised that the theme is also a call to action for everyone especially parents, saying “prevention is key”.
According to him, the fight against drug abuse and trafficking in illicit drugs should not be left to schools alone.
He added that parents need to be friends with their children and pay close attention to family ties as the long-term effects of drug abuse are unbearable.
“It could come back to the family in a more toxic and dangerous circle. It is definitely a win-win situation if we make it a collective effort.
“The government, the media, and civil society organisations must join hands and fight this menace.
“When a drug is not prescribed, those pharmacies who sell them out freely to people should be penalised and dealt with seriously.
“Security agents should be assigned to control the availability of those drugs across the counter, our rehab centres must be functional, well equipped and accessible to patients and their families seeking help in such centres,” he said.
Ashkeni urged the public to put an end to stigmatising of victims, saying it would help them heal faster.
Speaking earlier at the event, Dr Folasade Momoh, Executive Director, Centre for School Health Education and Environmental Hygiene (CSEEH) said the aim of the 2023 campaign “is to raise awareness on the importance of treating people who use drugs with respect and empathy.
“It is also to combat stigma and discrimination against people who are indulging in drug activities, offering alternatives to punishment, providing language and attitudes that are respectful and non-judgemental,” she said.
According to her, the drug problem is a complex issue affecting millions of people globally.
“Stigmatisation can further harm their physical and mental health and prevent them from accessing the much needed help,” she added.
Globally, June 26 every year has been set as World Drug Day, a day to mobilise, create awareness, and motivate people around the world to stop drug abuse and illicit trafficking.