As part of moves to combat drug and substance abuse and misuse in Nigeria, all the body of pharmacists in collaboration with regulatory agencies staged a 1000-man sensitisation and awareness road walk to educate and inform the public on the rising menace among youths in the country.
The walk, which was organised by the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy, (NAP) on Monday, kicked off from Allen Avenue/Obafemi Awolowo Way Roundabout to Ikeja under the bridge and had the presence of the pharmaceutical professional, in trade and academics as well as regulatory groups.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman, Drug, and Substance Abuse Committee of the NAP, Dr. Lolu Ojo, said the state of drug and substance abuse among Nigerian youths is terrible and is approaching an epidemic stage, adding that if not tackled urgently could lead to severe consequences on public health.
He noted that about 14.3 per cent of Nigerians are on drugs, with 10.6 million abusing it, noting that primary school pupils now abuse the drugs, which calls for immediate attention from the government and all stakeholders to address the issue before it gets out of proportion.
Ojo said the academy mobilise all pharmaceutical professional, in business, hospital, industry, community, manufacturers, academics and regulatory agencies to come together and assist the government efforts designed to eliminate the scourge of drug and substance abuse from the society.
“We want to tell people that drugs are poison when abused. It is only useful in the cure of illnesses. Using drugs in an unpleasant manner will damage your health in the long run,” he stressed.
Obaloluwa Ojo, Chairman, Drug and Substance Abuse Committee and Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy.
State of drug and substance abuse among youths in Nigeria.
The state of drug and substance abuse among Nigerian youths is terrible, it is a global phenomenon because 25 per cent of the world population are on drugs, but in Nigeria about 14.3 per cent are on drugs, 10.6 million on abuse and about 4.5 million are on opioids.
We have substantial number that are on, but these statistics, when you look at it, one out of five people on cannabis are dependent, that is the drugs have taken over their entire life, they can’t think straight or do the right things.
One out four drug user in Nigeria are women and that is a very serious matter. Women are the gate keepers who take care of the children.
Before now, the record is that the age of the users are between 15 and 65, but report shows now that it has gone down to about seven years of age, which means this drug abuse is not in the primary schools.
We can say we are almost approaching an epidemics proportion and that is why something needs to do dine urgently. I commend federal government for the response by setting up a committee.
That is the reason why the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy has mobile everybody in the pharmacy system, including the business, hospital, industry, community, manufacturers, academics.
We want to tell people that drugs are poison when abused. It is only useful in the cure of illnesses.
Using drugs in an unpleasant manner will damage your health in the long run, because when drugs get into the system, they change the pattern of behaviour of the system, then people will behave in an abnormal way, which is why we have increase in crime rate, kidnapping, burglary, armed robbery and all sort of evil things, which can be traced to drug abuse.
What we need to do is for government to engage the youths with job creation, let them have something to do, let the government use sport to get them off the street and .any other things that government needs to do.
1.8 million have apply for admission to JAMB, only about 100, 000 to 200, 000 would be taken, then what happens to the remaining 1.6 million people?
They are the people on the street, what happens to them? What alternative have we planned for them and government is responsible for this.
So we appeal to those in position of authority to use it for the benefit of the society.
Also the parents need to spend more time with their children, monitor them and follow hem to adulthood to ensure they do not fall victim of drug and substance abuse. We need to restrict access to drug abuse.
A situation whereby drug can be found anywhere in the market is not good which is why people easily get this and abuse them.
We are not saying other people should not be in the business of Pharmacy, all we are saying is that if you are in business of dealing with medicine, you must be under regulatory control and we appeal to the community and religious body that this is a serious matter that should be addressed properly.
What is your advocacy in the cartel that keeps bringing the drug?
We don’t want drugs to be available everywhere, it is because of the availability of drugs everywhere that the abuse case is rising.
The consequence of making drugs accessible to all is what we are facing right now.
What we are saying is that drugs are specialized items, which s why pharmacists are in school where the margin of error is nil.
Good need to through intelligence fish out those who are illegal drug peddlers and corrupting our youths.
For Nigerians, when they have need to use drugs they should visit a registered pharmacist, who are the people
”The turn out for this walk is huge, we have stakeholders and representatives of the regulatory agencies present to lead this walk against drug and substance abuse.
President Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa
Importance if raising this awareness
The importance is that pharmacists are the ones mandated by law to take care of medicines and drugs and all things that affects the human system, consume or applied, and pharmacists are mandated to be custodians of drugs and therefore if we have a situation where these items which are supposed to be protected and cared for for the good of the patients are now been misused or used for wrong reasons or way to achieve a different purpose from the purpose for which the medicines and drugs were made.
We should be first and foremost be concerned, which is why we have been speaking about it and now the Academy of Pharmacy are now doing this to reemphasize what has been done to tell Nigerians that pharmacists stand against drug abuse and misuse and anyway drugs that are meant to cure and heal are been made to harm and destroy, it hurts us because it distracts us from the work we are supposed to do.
Vice President, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy, Pharm. Ifeanyi Atueyi
Drug hawkers in Nigeria and self medication?
Self medication is not entirely wrong of you know the right thing to do and you know whom to approach. It a not every medicine you see doctor for prescription, there are medicines that are prescription only, there are some individuals can buy on the recommendation of pharmacist who are qualified professionals or nurses.
They are safe, but when people use Medicine indiscriminately, especially what they call poisons that should be prescribed, that is where there is problem because they do not know the side effects of these drugs and they misuse them.
Many a times they use the drugs for wrong purposes, that is why we encourage that people get proper medical advice, drugs are not food you eat like that, they are fro specific treatment of ailment. We need to be very careful, we don’t consume drugs as if they are food.
In the same way people should not be selling when they are not qualified NIR do they know the active ingredients of what they sell, when they don’t know the effects of what they sell, they are exposing people to dangers of health.
Those who hawk drugs in public transports
A lot of people are selling drugs illegally, sometimes they open shops, dome you find them along the streets at different corners. it is illegal and they are promoting a lot of dangers to the health of the populace. This shouldn’t happen but when it comes to enforcing the laws, it is not easy to enforce laws in millions of people, where are the law enforcement officers? they are doing things illegal but they go Scot free because the law enforcement agencies can not cope with the problems of the society
Former Minister of Health
Founder and Chairman, Juli Pharmacy Plc.Prince Julius Adewale Adelusi-Adeluyi
If we can learn in this country to handle drugs more carefully, the health of the nation will be better.
We must put stronger regulations in place to control drugs from manufacturing to consumption, that is why the Academy of Pharmacy has come out with this awareness programme, you can see young and old people and we are all together, determined to play our role as pharmacist, as those who are charged with the protection, production and delivery of drugs, we are ready to make sure, through this advocacy, that you can trust the pharmacists.