World Drugs Day

The drug abuse discussion seems to be sinking into the minds of many Ghanaians as well as stakeholders in Ghana and across the globe. Civil Society Organisations, faith-based organisations (FBOs), the youth and the media have all joined in the drug debate. While others are focused on a particular drug such as Tramadol, others are asking questions like: “Do we have a drug policy in the country? Do we have a rehabilitation centre? Do we have a drug bill?” etc.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) launched a live chat dubbed ‘let’s talk drugs’, which had about nine hundred views last month. The live chat is said to be a monthly presentation that seeks to engage people online about drugs and enable viewers to share their perspectives on the status quo.

The University of Ghana, in collaboration with Open Society Global Foundation and Open Society Initiative for West Africa, on the other hand has opened the 5th course on human rights and drug policy. The course, which is open to Anglophone countries, seeks to equip, educate and empower people in the public and private sectors on human rights and drug policy.

The six-day course will have Mr. Akrasi Sarpong, former NACOB boss; Miss Catalina Arreazea (PHD) from Colombia; Mrs. Mariagoretti Loglo, West Africa Consultant for IDPC; and Mr. Adeolu Oguroumbi of Youthrise Nigeria, among other lecture participants on drugs, international drug policy, human rights etc. The course aims at developing the competencies of participants to support their home governments in adopting drug policies which are underpinned by public health and citizen security – anchored in evidence-based harm reduction approaches and backed by laws or practices that are human rights-complaint.

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According to a press release by the course coordinators, the 5th course on drugs and human rights will enlighten participants on the formulation of policies relating to drug control and its interdisciplinary focus on problem-solving and learning. Women are encouraged to apply, and the deadline for submission by Anglophone countries is 6th July, 2018.

Participants are expected to submit their transcripts from any recognised university, a one-page cover letter, one-page motivational letter, and a page outline of the drug problems in their respective countries as well as two letters of reference – academic or work-related.

The World Drug Day is an international observation of Drug abuse and illicit trafficking. The UN’s 2007 world drug report estimated the of illegal drug trade’s value at US$322billion per annum.

The World Drugs Day has been observed since 1989, and it was chosen as a day to commemorate Lin Zexu’s (who was a Chinese scholar-official of the Qing Dynasty) dismantling of the opium trade in Humen and Guangdong just before the first opium war in China.

World Drugs Day was instituted by a General Assembly resolution, which is one of the six (6) principal organs of the United Nations which enable all member-nations to have representations in the deliberative, policy-making organ of the United Nations. The resolution was established in 1987 and is usually referred to as 6/26.  This year, the World Drugs Day will be observed with different activities all over the world; and the 2018 World drugs report will be released at the United Nations in New York and Vienna respectively.

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The 2016 edition showed that 29.5 million people globally suffer from drug use disorder, and that Ghana is a hub for drugs as well as the 3rd highest cocaine transit point in Africa. According to the report, the seizures of cocaine from 2009-2014 in West Africa which were accounted for by region rose to 78 percent – with West Africa being a major passage point for drugs from South America en-route to Europe. Will 2017 be different? Let’s wait and see what June 26th will bring to us.

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