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Drug situation in Nigeria, public health crisis — Health Minister

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said that the current drug situation in Nigeria is a public health crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Ehanire said this during the two-day 22nd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFON) in Abuja on Friday.

The Minister, represented by the Minister of State, Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the theme of the conference, “Drug Abuse: The scourge on families and Nigeria as a nation’’, was apt as it would provide platforms to address drug abuse challenges.

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According to him, the 2018 National Drug Use Survey shows an estimate of 14.3 million people between 15 years and 64 years abusing drugs

“This signifies a marked increase of about 8.8 per cent compared to results from a prior survey conducted in 2016 and more than twice the global average.

“It is apparent that the current drug situation in Nigeria is a public health crisis of unprecedented proportions,’’ he said.

According to him, the survey provides the government with baseline information needed for the design and implementation of effective prevention, treatment and continuous care services at the community level that is evidence-based.

He, therefore, charged SOFON, community leaders and other relevant stakeholders to offer health promotion and prevention services within the community that would help limit the spread of drug abuse.

“As frontline providers of person-centred healthcare, it is within the domains of practice of Family Physicians to identify and provide early diagnosis, treatment and referral services for drug abuse and mental health disorders where appropriate.

Dr Paul Obiegbu, SOFON President, reiterated the society’s commitment towards improving health care services through the academic and professional advancement of the speciality of family medicine in the country.

Obiegbu said the conference’ focus on drug abuse was to draw attention to its effects on the society, adding that some users also got addicted to prescription drugs.

“It is not only illegal drugs like cocaine or heroin that can lead to abuse and addiction.

“Prescription drugs like pain killers, sleeping pills and tranquilisers can cause similar problems,’’ he said.

On his part, Dr Osahon Enabulele, President of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), assured that the association would continue to partners SOFON to strengthen Nigeria’s health system.

Enabulele emphasised that the social determinant of drug abuse such as poverty, unemployment, educational opportunities and all the gaps in the health care system should be urgently addressed to reduce the scourge.

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