Accra, March 9, GNA - Mr Edwin Barnes, Chief Director of the Ministry of the Interior, on Wednesday called on all stakeholders in the war against drugs to help to change the attitude of the public towards drug use and trafficking since this had become a major problem to the nation.
He said the increase in the armed robbery, rape, accidents and the spread of HIV/AIDS could all be linked to the use and trafficking of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, which was gradually spreading in the rural and urban areas.
Launching the International Narcotic Control Board Report for 2004, Mr Barnes noted that another dangerous attitude, which needed to be changed, was the "get-rich-quick" mindset of people who tried to rationalise drug trafficking because they needed money.
The 96-Report highlights progress that has been made in preventing diversion of chemicals that are needed in the illicit manufacture of drugs.
The Report also cites the inadequate institutional and technical capacities in African countries to deal with the drug issue in a comprehensive manner saying these have negatively affected the implementation of drug control strategies.
The International Narcotics Control Board is the independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the UN drug control conventions and has estimated that the drug business is only second to the oil trade with an annual turnover of about 500 billion dollars.
Mr Barnes said students, for instance, had a wrong but strong notion that drugs could help them to study while drivers also used drugs to keep them awake on long journeys.
He pointed out that drugs impaired the functioning of short and long-term memory and rather got them addicted to such substances and imperilled their lives.
Mr Barnes said this year's Report did not make any negative remarks about Ghana's role in narcotic drug trafficking. However, local arrests, reports from educational institutions and drug related hospital admissions were indications that Ghana had its share of the drug problem.
He said the Government had demonstrated its preparedness and ability to contain the problem by strengthening the Narcotic Control Board to adopt a comprehensive multi-discipline outline approach to drug control in the country.
Over the past two years actions of the Government have resulted in more than 430 cases of seizures, attempted diversions and actual diversions.
Major Abdul Braimah, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Narcotic Control Board, said the drug problem in Ghana could be seen in three major ways namely, the abuse of illegal drugs, cultivation of marijuana and drug trafficking.
He said it was generally thought that marijuana, also known as "wee", was the only drug abused. However, the use of cocaine and heroin had also increased since the youth had started using it on a large scale.
Major Braimah said unlike marijuana, cocaine and heroin were not produced in the country but were imported by drug barons and agents from South America and some Asian countries and repacked to Europe and the United States.
He said as long as new markets emerged and addicts in these markets were willing to pay for the drugs more traffickers would have to be found. These, he added, posed danger since young men and women were hired to carry them.
Dr Charles E. Fleischer-Djoleto, Family Health and Population Officer of the World Health Organisation, expressed concern about the use of the Internet for the drug trade which posed serious health hazards to the public.
He said a billion doses of drugs were sold on the Internet to anyone including children, adding that this was in contravention to drug regulations and called on African governments to give high priority to address these issues.
Mr Emmanuel Agyarko, Chief Executive of the Food and Drugs Board, called on the Media to assist in educating the public about the effects of drugs which posed severe health problems. He called on the public to place honour and premium on hard work to earn money rather than depending on drugs to get rich.