Gov’t rolls out new services to tackle drug abuse

The Ministry of Health plans to roll out a range of new services, while intensifying existing programmes, aimed at helping persons battle drug abuse.

Guyana currently has close to ten Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) Units which help to implement drug treatment strategies and eight Drug Treatment Courts.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony speaking at the observance ceremony of International Day against illicit trafficking and drug abuse

The health ministry will soon develop a comprehensive approach to tackle discrimination against drug-abused victims.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony on Monday, said the new method entails creating more clinics in all the regions, as well as expanding the chronic disease programme across the country.

“This is an area that we need to train more people in, how to work with persons with addiction, and how to provide long-term rehabilitation service for people,” Dr Anthony emphasised, during his keynote address at the observance ceremony of International Day against Illicit Trafficking and Drug Abuse, at Herdmanston Lodge, Georgetown.

He described the overuse of drugs as a ‘big problem’ while noting that to tackle the social scourge from an early stage, the ministry will strengthen its partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Guyana Police Force and the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU).

Magistrate Rondel Weaver speaking at the ceremony

“One of the areas that we identified that we need to do a lot more work on, is really treating persons who have addiction. These services will be expanded and will be integrated within our primary health care services,” the health minister added.

Meanwhile, Project Lead of the DDR Unit, Dr Travis Freeman said three of the drug demand facilities have extended their working hours to better serve patients who need immediate assistance.

These extended hours have been ongoing for approximately three to four months, and they have seen almost 80 patients and had almost 300 sessions with clients and relatives,” Dr Freeman disclosed.  

Additionally, Magistrate Rondel Weaver underscored that the drug treatment service established in some local courts has helped persons to properly reintegrate into society.

“The Drug Treatments Courts in Guyana, like any rehabilitative programme embraces the fact that there is no shame in beginning again, for each participant gets a chance to build bigger and better than before,” Magistrate Weaver noted.

School children attending the ceremony to be sensitised on the prevention of drug abuse

The programme allows persons to avoid spending time in prison for the offence of possession of narcotics for trafficking, but rather spend a small amount of time in a rehabilitative institution with various restorative services being offered.

International Day against Illicit Trafficking and Drug Abuse is being celebrated under the theme ‘People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention.’