By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, has said that Nigeria has over 14.3 million people who use drugs and 1 in 4 of this population is a woman or girl.
The development was revealed as Nigeria, with the support of the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC officially launched its first ever comprehensive national survey on drug use and health – Drug Use in Nigeria 2018.
The survey also indicated that only 1 in 20 people in treatment for using drugs, is a woman, saying that there is a generally acknowledged dearth of drug treatment services in Nigeria, the gap is even more disproportionate for female drug users who for a myriad reason are unable to access treatment as easily as their male counterparts.
UNDOC said this during its partnership with National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to sensitise the Nigerian Governors Wives on Drug Use, Treatment, Prevention and Care.
It was gathered that members of the Nigerian Governors Wives Forum are at the forefront of advocating for improved access to drug prevention and treatment services in Nigeria.
Explaining further, the UNODC said it was on the initiative of the First Lady of Nigeria, Hajia Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, that the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse, PACEDA, was first established in 2018 – recommended a series of targeted interventions for elimination of drug abuse in Nigeria.
Speaking during the event, the NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa urged the Forum to spearhead the establishment of State Drug Control Committees, SDCCs, in their respective States to facilitate the implementation of drug control responses at all levels of government and society.
Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, remarked that the sensitisation exercise will enhance participants’ knowledge and skills in implementing appropriate drug control interventions in health and humanitarian crises, which is also the theme for this year’s World Drug Day.
She emphasised that we “all need to contribute our quota to the national drug control efforts.”
The UNODC Country Representative, Oliver Stolpe urged the Governors Wives not to lose sight of the public health crisis caused by drug use, noting that what is being invested right now is nowhere near sufficient to cater for the needs of millions of persons living with a drug use dependency.
He therefore solicited their support for the implementation of UNPLUGGED across the 27,000 public and private secondary schools in the country as well as providing access to quality drug treatment to the millions of persons, in particular women and girls, living with a drug use disorder by creating drug treatment facilities in all states, establishing drop-in centers across all LGAs, and equipping primary health care providers with basic drug treatment, counselling and referral skills. The EUD representative, Ms. Zerzelidou, noted that the Governors Wives, with their influence, can pave the way for more initiatives on drug demand reduction.