Prevention of drug abuse is everyone’s business – CMO declares

The Ministry of Health on Friday joined the rest of the world in observing International Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Day, 2022.

The day is being celebrated under the theme “Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crisis.”

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Narine Singh.

Delivering remarks during the ceremony held at the Grand Coastal Hotel, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Narine Singh, said drug abuse is a major public health problem and must be tackled collaboratively.

“This problem is not a Ministry of Health problem alone, it’s a problem that needs a lot of collaboration,” he pointed out.

“It’s a major challenge and it’s becoming more challenging recently. We heard about the increase use of drugs in the schools (and) also in the adult population,” he continued.  

Dr. Narine said there has been an increase in alcohol abuse which leads to major social and economic impacts.

A number of school children attended the event.

In 2021, the health ministry established a unit to address cases of drug abuse.  Apart from this, a number of collaborative efforts were made with non-governmental organisations (NGO) including the Salvation Army and Phoenix Recovery Programme to ensure persons have access to rehabilitation services.

The ministry is also working closely with the Mental Health Unit, where efforts are being made to bring more social workers and psychologists on board to help address the issue.

Other collaborating partners include the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the magistrate’s courts, which would have established a juvenile court system to deal with this issue.

A section of the audience at the observance ceremony

Currently over 60 percent of patients at the National Psychiatric Hospital located in New Amsterdam, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) are struggling with a drug use problem.

Dr. Narine said psychologists there, are working to ensure those patients can be treated and reintegrated into society. He noted that medical officers are being trained to diagnose and deal with substance abuse patients.

Also, the ministry will be placing psychologists in the various regions to deal with the issue across the country.