MTN Foundation to curb drug, substance abuse, misuse in Nigeria with ASAP
Irked by the rising incidence of drug and substance abuse among youths in Nigeria, MTN Foundation, through its Youth Empowerment Cause has launched project Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) to address the menace in communities as well as addiction among students.
Speaking at the launch of the project, the Chairman, MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said with reports on the rising cases of drug abuse in the country, Nigeria may be on her way to creating a generation of drug addicts, which he said needs collective efforts from the government, media, professional bodies, non-governmental organisation and security agencies to raise public awareness and advocate for more effective methods to address this national issue.
“Every day, millions of young Nigerians are at risk of opioid addiction. They could be our family members, neighbours, and friends. This is why we must ensure that the conversation does not stop and all hands must be on deck. We must also do as much as we can; as fast as we can to educate our fellow citizens before they succumb to the temptation of taking drugs for the first time and we owe it to ourselves and children, the task of creating a world where they can become useful members of society,” he stressed.
Explaining the rational behind the project, the Executive Secretary, MTNF, Nonny Ugboma, said the ASAP is a multi- stakeholder and multi-sectoral initiative spearheaded by the telecommunications foundation to deliver interventions that contribute to the significant reduction in the rate of first time users of addictive substances and drugs among young Nigerians aged between 10-25 years.
She said the pilot phase of the programme would be implemented over six months period across six locations in Nigeria, which are Abuja, Kano, Bauchi, Imo, Rivers and Lagos states.She added that the project scope will include direct engagement with activities in primary, secondary schools, campuses, markets and advocacy walk; digital empowerment such as microsite, social media conversations; stakeholders collaboration including relevant associations, groups, professional bodies and government agencies to reach the grassroots as well as media advocacy.
She said with more advocacies and awareness in the issues, which she said, has because a national issue, Nigeria would become a country with youths of brighter future and free of drug and substance abuse/addiction.Stakeholders present at the launching of the ASAP project include: the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria, National Drug Laws Enforcement Agency, Nigerian Police Force, Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions in Nigeria, Nigeria Network of NGOs among others.
Commissioned by the World Health Organisation, the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimate that globally over 160 million people had an alcohol or drug use disorder in 2016.
While data on the prevalence of substance abuse and the number of people with drug disorders in Nigeria is limited, available facts suggest that accessibility to and abuse of illicit drugs are on the rise. According to a 2016 report from the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), Nigeria is a known trafficking hub for controlled substances, with many young Nigerians in metropolitan areas getting entangled in drug-related offences.
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