PSH commemorates the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

By Kuda Pembere

Population Solutions for Health (PSH) today joined the world in commemorating the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

At an event held at the Embassy of Sweden in Harare, youngsters from high school and some universities alongside other youths were commended for opening up on drug and substance abuse which the Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe, His Excellency Per Lindgärde finds helpful in reducing further damage caused by this scourge.

The commemoration comes at a time when PSH is spearheading a campaign dubbed The Strength Is In You. The campaign, according to PSH, seeks to reduce the incidence of drug and substance use amongst at-risk adolescents, men, and women by increasing knowledge and awareness of the negative impact of Drug and Substance Use (DSU) on sexual reproductive health, mental health, and GBV.

Officiating the event, the Ambassador Lindgärde said sharing in honesty amongst one another is a critical element in the prevention of drug and substance use.

I would like to say thank you to all the young people. I enjoyed a lot listening to the discussions. Thank you for being so open and honest because I think really in order to prevent and to stop the use of drugs and substances, we need to be honest with each other.

“The discussion we had is very important at the issue of preventing drugs and also linked to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.

He said drug and substance use is especially damaging to the youths.

“While drug and alcohol abuse cuts across all generations, it’s especially damaging to the young people on whom our future depends.

“The theme of today’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “The evidence is clear: invest in prevention”.

“The theme recognizes that drug and substance abuse present a multifaceted challenge that touches the lives of millions.

“From individuals struggling with substance use disorders to communities grappling with the consequences of drug abuse, the impact of drugs is far-reaching and complex,” Ambassador Lindgärde said.

Ambassador Lindgärde added that the fact that drugs have become easy to access in the country is disconcerting.

“Central to addressing this challenge is to prioritizes prevention. Looking around the country, we know how easy it is now for young people to grow up in an environment where drugs are commonplace. This development concerns us greatly. Once a person becomes addicted to drugs, their future or even their life can be destroyed,” he said. “Drug and Substance Abuse has corrosive effects and weakens whole generations of people. I am glad we had young people here to discuss how this problem is manifesting and how we can support them. Ensuring that young people become agents of change in their communities, empowering young people to advocate for drug prevention initiatives and amplifying their voices in this conversation is key.”

He also unveiled the wall murals for PSH’s campaign against drugs.

“Today, together with our partner Population Solutions for Health and campaign champions and influencers, we are unveiling the campaign “The Strength Is in You” on our Embassy wall. We hope this exhibition will ignite dialogue, challenge each and everyone of you and motivate you to stop drug abuse. “This $1.9m, “The Strength Is In You” campaign was launched a couple of months ago and it works with people with lived experiences to share their stories publicly on how they overcame drugs.

“The campaign is also collaborating with influencers who appeal to young people like you to encourage open dialogue about drug use and the consequences,” he said.

Meanwhile, the country launched the Zimbabwe Multi-Sectoral Drug and Substance Abuse Plan (2024-2030) at a ceremony presided over by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. The comprehensive plan, developed through a collaborative effort involving various Government ministries, agencies, and stakeholders, seeks to create “A Healthy and Secure Nation Free from Illicit Drugs and Substances” over the coming six years.

“Drug and substance abuse has become a significant public health, socio-economic and national security challenge as well as a potential threat to the country’s development trajectory,” President Mnangagwa said in his address. “It also has far-reaching consequences on drug users such as poor health aftermaths, social and economic problems, as well as psychosocial effects, among a range of negative outcomes.”

According to the United Nations, by resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

“This plan is our blueprint to eradicate this scourge from our communities, ensuring a healthier and more secure future for all Zimbabweans. This comprehensive plan is a testament to the visionary leadership of His Excellency and the unwavering determination of the people of Zimbabwe to eradicate substance abuse from their communities. We recognize the vital need to stem the flow of drugs through rigorous measures against trafficking. Dealers and traffickers must be met with unwavering resistance, and stringent laws must be enforced to curb the supply of these harmful substances.

“Central to this mission is the engagement of youth. Young people are not only the leaders of tomorrow but the vanguards of today in our relentless battle against substance abuse. We must harness their energy, ingenuity, and drive to lead awareness campaigns, educate their peers, and champion a drug-free lifestyle. By providing our youth with opportunities and resources, we fortify our future against the threat of substance abuse,” said the UN Country Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator His Excellency, Mr. Edward Kallon.

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