Home Health War On Drugs Intensifies! …As Multi-Sector Committee On Substance Abuse Commits To Deliver

War On Drugs Intensifies! …As Multi-Sector Committee On Substance Abuse Commits To Deliver

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By: Patrick Cooper

MONROVIA: The Multi-sector committee setup by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has committed its efforts to the Fight against Drugs and Substance Abuse which has become a serious national and security concern.

To kick-start the process, the committee on Monday, February 19, 2024, identified the Youth Agriculture Training Center (YATC) in Bensonville, Montserrado County, as a rehabilitation center for drug users, situated on 1500 acres of land.

Speaking as Head of the Committee, the new Minister of Health, Dr. Louise Mapleh Kpoto, noted that her team is carefully considering key factors such as accessibility, suitability of the location, potential impact on the community, and resources needed for the smooth running of the facility.

Minister Kpoto disclosed that the national steering committee, with the support of President Joseph N. Boakai, will endeavor to implement evidence-based practices in setting up the rehabilitation center that would significantly contribute to combating substance abuse and supporting individuals in recovery.

At the occasion, the Director General of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) Col. Abraham Kromah, averred that the enrollment in the mental restructuring program will be exclusively voluntary.

“The coding process is ongoing at the moment, a move that will help them embrace positive change,” he noted.

Col. Kromah who is noted for being vigorous and proactive when it comes to responsibilities given him, indicated that those who are defiant substance users, categorized as ‘regular clients,’ who would be found loitering in street corners would be arrested and taken to the treatment center in Bentol City.

He asserted that “Drug users” arrested in ghettos by officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency will be processed and turned over to the Criminal Justice System for prosecution.

“I am committed to enforcing the drug law of Liberia to the core,” he maintained.

The LDEA boss however stressed the urgent need to rehabilitate substance users because, according to him, 20% of the country’s population is illegally using drugs.

Col. Kromah noted that technical and security mechanisms are being mobilized for the protection of the facility and surrounding communities.

For his part, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Cllr. Jeror Cole Bangalu, a member of the committee noted that a more sustainable approach to combating drugs does not only focus on apprehending substance users but also on capacitating them to be more useful in society.

Minister Bangalu said that the rehabilitation and capacity-building programs, which lead to employment and meaningful contributions to society, are in line with the government’s agenda led by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

“We are working out modalities to ensure that the process is implemented immediately,” he said.

Minister Bangalu: “The President has said this is his priority, so we will work in line with the President’s priority, and his concern about these young people so that they can become useful citizens.”

Meanwhile, a Psychiatrist who is providing technical support in the area of mental health, Dr. Moses Ziah, III, used his time to call for publicity and educational awareness to ensure that other school-going kids who are abusing drugs stay at home and school and be treated or go for treatment.

According to him, the mental restructuring process is just a tiny component of the bigger picture that is ahead to be collectively tackled.

On Monday, January 29, 2024, at his first State of the Nation address, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai described the drug epidemic in the Country especially the use of “KUSH”, as an existential threat that is eating away the future of the youth and the country.

According to him, they as leaders must stand up and face this national security risk together, giving the need for immediate action to make good the pledge to the thousands of families burdened by such crisis.

“I am here-by declaring Drugs and Substance abuse as a Public Health Emergency,” he declared.

The President went further by establishing a multi-sector steering committee comprising the following agencies: Ministry of Health as Chair, Ministry of Justice will Co-Chair, Ministry of Youth and Sports- Member, Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection – Member, Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) – Member and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) – Member.

To make his commitment in the fight against drug and substance abuse serious, the Liberian leader then made a promise of leading his vice President Jeremiah Kpan Koung to be the first two officials who he noted would take the test, a promise he lived up to, after he and his vice President publicly underwent the drug test, and the test report showed negative.

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