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27.06.2004 General News

International Day for Drug Abuse and Trafficking launched

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Kumasi, June 27, GNA - Forty Community Drug Treatment Centres are being established in all the 10 regions of the country by the government with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). As part of the programme, 40 community psychiatric nurses have already been selected to undergo training in drug counselling treatment in Kumasi.

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Minister of Interior, announced this in a speech read for him by Mr Thomas Broni, Deputy Minister of Interior at the launch of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking in Kumasi on Saturday.

He regretted that many people have the impression that once someone became addicted to drugs the person can never be treated and as a result of the misconception, there are many drug addicts on the streets who could have been successfully treated if they had made an attempt to seek help.

Mr Owusu-Agyemang said that when addicts have been successfully treated they would be encouraged to undergo rehabilitation which involved training in vocations like tailoring, shoe or leather works, crafts, carpentry, among others.

The aim of this, he said, is to help them perform some economic ventures so that they would not be compelled to go back to the streets where they could easily relapse into drug taking.

The Interior Minister said the rehabilitation programme would be on a pilot scale and that with the support of UNODC, a number of addicts are to be given various vocational training at the Social Welfare Centre in Accra to ensure their social integration.

Mr Owusu-Agyemang noted, "drug addicts cannot be left to wallow in their condition until they become a liability or even dangerous. They could be treated, rehabilitated and re-integrated into society as citizens".

The Minister therefore, stressed the need for the society to take advantage of the various interventions provided by the government and send their addicts for treatment.

Mr Owusu-Agyemang gave the assurance that the government would continue to sensitise the public, especially the youth, to lead a drug free life, adding that arrests and prosecutions of drug dealers would also be intensified so as to curb the practice. Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister, in a speech read for him, said the problem of drug abuse and illicit trafficking was becoming serious and that if care was not taken, the problem could have serious consequences on the entire social and economic development of the country.

He disclosed that out of the 667 cases of drug dealers and traffickers reported between 2001 and June this year in the Ashanti Region, only 244 persons had been convicted and sentenced with the remaining cases pending trial and said that was putting unnecessary pressure on the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary as well as dissipation of national resources.

Mr Kofi Annan, United Nation (UN) Secretary-General in a speech read for him, stressed the need for policy makers to bear in mind that treatment is a cost effective way to tackle not only the health and social consequences of drug abuse but also to reduce associated costs of medical care, social welfare and criminal justice interventions.

Mr Cyril Kwaku Duah Mensah, Ashanti Regional Commander of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), who presided over the function, said drug abuse and trafficking was assuming alarming proportions and asked the public not to condone and connive with such dealers but help to expose them to the security agencies for arrest.

Earlier a float of school children and students went through the principal streets of the metropolis with placards which read: "Drugs Can Kill", "Support Drug Prevention", "Parents should not send their children to buy cigarettes for them", "Wee will destroy" and "Don't Use Drugs for Studies".