Buhari emphasizes the need of healthcare services for substance addiction patients.
Written by Ossy on October 28, 2021
Dr. Aisha Buhari, Nigeria’s First Lady, has emphasized the importance of strengthening the country’s healthcare system in order to respond to and offer healthcare services to victims of substance misuse.
Speaking at the 2021 annual general meeting/conference of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals, ISSUP Nigeria, on Tuesday in Abuja, the First Lady urged political leaders and celebrities to refrain from promoting activities and contents that portray drug abuse as an acceptable practice, despite the fact that it is dangerous and unhealthy.
Mrs. Buhari, who was represented at the conference by her Special Assistant on African First Ladies Peace Mission, Mrs. Mairo Tanko Almakura, said the conference’s theme, ‘Substance Abuse: Re-Awakening Nigerians to its Reality,’ was timely because it highlighted the importance of recognizing and addressing the country’s substance abuse problem.
She raised concern over the findings of the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use, which found that the prevalence of drug misuse in Nigeria was around three times that of the worldwide norm.
According to her, the survey also found that the majority of drug users who acquired drug use problems were unable to get medical care, owing to stigma and a lack of treatment facilities.
“This presents a challenge to Nigeria’s already overburdened healthcare system,” she lamented. As a result, although preventive and early detection efforts to reduce the prevalence of drug misuse are our first line of defense, there is a clear need to enhance our healthcare system to respond proactively and offer healthcare services to individuals in need of treatment.
“We must also continue to recognize that drug misuse is a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue.” Let me also use this occasion to urge our legislators to recognize that decriminalizing drug use while imposing harsher penalties on drug traffickers will go a long way toward increasing access to treatment for those drug users who require medical attention.
“Increased drug usage has long been a cause of significant concern for me.” Drug misuse wreaks havoc on relationships, families, and communities. No mother wants her children to suffer from the severe health implications of substance usage, such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, addiction, or even death. Every mother wants her children to have a high level of education, to be able to find and hold good employment, to be able to overcome financial insecurity and poverty and to live lives free of violence and crime.
“Similarly, Nigeria cannot afford to continue losing its teeming youth to such a threat while expecting the younger generation to deliver great leadership and flourish in new ventures that will improve our society for the better.”
As a result, she urged parents to support and promote the implementation of policies and programs aimed at strengthening strong family values, which serve as the moral foundation for nurturing children through proper parental guidance, attending to their needs, and properly guiding them to adulthood.
“Regardless of our economic aspirations, as parents and community members, we have basic duties to play; dads and mothers must make time and chances to care for their children, communities should reclaim their obligations, and every other member is his brothers’ keeper,” she stated.
“Furthermore, we must continue to foster a climate in which individuals do not perceive drug usage as an alternative or a solution.” As stakeholders, we must continue to advocate for the provision of high-quality, low-cost education from infancy until at least secondary school for all children.
“We must also urge our government officials, major opinion leaders, and celebrities to be aware of the hazards of substance addiction and refrain from supporting activities and material that portray drug abuse as a normal practice, despite the fact that it is dangerous and harmful.” In order to properly involve our youth and set them on a road to wealth, we must also establish the necessary atmosphere that fosters productivity and employment prospects.
“It is my understanding that these recommendations are consistent with internationally recognized evidence-based drug abuse prevention strategies that focus on reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities,” she said.
While congratulating ISSUP’s national President, Martin Agwogie, and his team for organizing the event, which she described as aimed at raising awareness about the reality and dangers of substance abuse in Nigeria, she urged well-meaning Nigerians to support the anti-drug campaign and help raise awareness about the health and socio-economic consequences of substance abuse.
Earlier in his welcoming address, Dr. Agwogie, National President of ISSUP Nigeria, indicated that the topic was chosen to convey a clear statement that Nigeria was in a crisis of drug use and misuse, which he claimed was jeopardizing the nation’s fabrics.
He proclaimed ISSUP’s support for President Muhamadu Buhari’s recent inauguration of the War Against Drug Abuse WADA. According to him, the proclamation “is founded on our awareness that WADA’s mandate is not a declaration of war against drug users, but a community will to confront the issue of substance use and misuse in our beautiful nation.” A rallying cry for everyone to join the struggle to combat the looming dangers of drug misuse, as well as a call to establish a culture of substance use prevention through family engagement, community coalitions, and stakeholder collaboration.
“In light of this, we have completely mobilized the state branches and students’ wing of the ISSUP Nigeria Chapter to engage with the NDLEA and other stakeholders to advance this project at the state and community levels, as well as across Nigeria’s higher institutions of learning.” This is not the time to be undecided. We must all take responsibility for our own fate and the future of this country.”