Zimbabwe launches multi-sectoral drug and substance abuse plan 

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By Tinei Tuhwe

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Wednesday launched the Zimbabwe Multi-Sectoral Drug and Substance Abuse Plan (2024-2030), coinciding with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

This follows a scourge of drug and substance abuse across the country especially among the youth.

In past years, drug and substance abuse awareness programmes have been run and law enforcement agents have introduced “operations” cracking down on thousands of drug suppliers and users.

The day was running under the theme “The Evidence is Clear: Invest in Prevention” which Mnangagwa said emphasises the importance of proactive measures to identify and support individuals vulnerable to drug addiction, thereby preventing the onset of drug-related issues.

“The World Drug Day was set aside for nations to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of societies that are free of drug abuse.

“This year’s theme also highlights the need for society to pay more attention to people who are at risk of developing a drug problem,” he said.

In 2021, a Zimbabwe National Drug Masterplan by the government identified alcohol and drug abuse as one of the top causes of mental health problems across Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report “Mental health among young people in the African Region” further revealed that Zimbabwe at the time had the highest number of 15 to 19-year-olds in Africa who engage in heavy “episodic drinking”, at 70.7 percent among males and 55.5 percent among females.

Added Mnangagwa, “Global trends indicate that the abuse of drugs and harmful substances results in 3.3 million deaths each year, with at least 15.3 million persons having drug use disorders.

“Resultantly, approximately 60% of patients admitted in mental health institutions suffer from drug use disorders.

“This data confirms the extent of the problem at a global scale. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe being part of the global world, has not been spared.”

An Inter-Ministerial Committee, a multi-sectoral National Committee, and a Fund to support drug and substance abuse response have been established.

“The Zimbabwe Multi-Sectoral Drug and Substance Abuse Plan (2024-2030) provides a comprehensive roadmap for addressing drug abuse through supply reduction, demand reduction, harm reduction, treatment, and rehabilitation, as well as psychosocial support and community reintegration.

“In this regard, the Second Republic continues to collaborate with all stakeholders in tackling the menace of drug and substance abuse,” he said

Mnangagwa commended the collaborative effort that developed the Plan, thanking UNICEF and the National Drug and Substance Abuse Committee for their contributions.

He announced the establishment of a National Drug Agency to provide strategic leadership and coordinate the implementation of the Plan.

The President concluded by highlighting that with this launch, Zimbabwe takes a significant step towards addressing the scourge of drug and substance abuse, aligning with global efforts to create safer and healthier communities