June 30, GNA - Mr James Zuugah Tiigah, Upper East Regional Minister, on Monday
pledged the Regional Co-ordinating Council’s commitment to clamp down on drug
peddlers in the region.
Mr Tiigah said illicit drug peddling and abuse and alcoholism among the productive youth, posed a health hazard to them and a threat to the human resource segment of the nation.
Government, he said, would therefore leave no stone unturned to fight the menace.
The Regional Minister made the pledge when he addressed parents, school children and the general public, during the celebration of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Bolgatanga.
He pointed out that organized crime undermined institutions, fed violence and instability, and said the Regional Co-ordinating Council would team up, especially with the police, to arrest those who supplied illicit drugs to the youth.
The event was organized by ‘Life Out of Alcohol and Drugs’ (LOAD Ghana), a non-governmental organization founded by a recovering alcoholic who had come out from use of drugs.
It was also an occasion to launch the organization in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
The Minister urged the general public not to foil the efforts of LOAD Ghana, but rather help the organization to achieve the purpose for which it was established.
Dr Koku Awoonor- Williams, Upper East Regional Health Director, in an address, reiterated the dangers of drugs and the alarming rate of students’ involvement in alcohol and drugs.
He indicated that most motor accidents occurring in the region and reported to health facilities were substance abuse related.
Dr Awoonor- Williams said a study conducted by his outfit on over 100 students in the region identified that out of the number, 17 percent of males and 12 per cent females were engaged in drugs or alcohol.
He said a Municipal survey conducted also revealed that 211 drinking bars , 71 restaurants and chop bars dealt with alcohol, and according to him more of such operated under trees and private homes not covered by the survey, while there were numerous pito houses.
He said a mental health report compiled by his outfit in 2014 revealed that out of a total of 3,046 new cases reported, 282 were substance abuse related cases.
He said drug abuse was a scare, and the day set aside for it offered an opportunity to highlight plans to curb the increasing menace.
He suggested more programmes to reach out to communities to educate the youth on harmful effects of drugs.
Mr Emmanuel Sombo Zumakpeh, Regional Director of Education, who shared some more ideas on the issues, urged students to be gatekeepers of their colleagues in the fight against the menace, stressing that student were in a better position to tell the warning signs if a fellow student was engaged in drugs.
To help the students to abstain from engaging in such behaviour, the Education Director told teachers to build confidentiality and friendship with the students, in order to win their trust so they could easily identify their problems and give counsel.
Mr Roger Atambire, Executive Director of LOAD Ghana, shared his experience with drugs and alcohol, and on a sober note, advised students not to engage themselves in drugs and alcohol.