The Drug and Substance Abuse Reduction Committee (DSARC) of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Rivers State Branch on Friday, 8th June 2018 paid a courtesy visit to the Pastor-in-charge of Region 5 of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Belemina Obunge at his office in Port Harcourt.
The PSN DSARC delegation which was led by the State PSN Chairman, Pharm. Wale Oladigbolu, ably represented by the Vice Chairman, Dr. Karin Ekpe described their visit to the clergy as part of their efforts to collaborate with religious bodies in the state towards curbing the menace of substance abuse in Rivers State. She stated that their visit was specifically aimed at
- Appreciating and supporting the visionary leadership of the Regional Pastor in providing solutions to persons affected by the use of psychoactive substances in the state.
- Securing his approval for opportunity to speak to the congregations in all the provinces under the region during their individual monthly provincial programs.
- Pledging the donation of 20 pieces of 12-panel drug testing kits to the rehab centre once it is fully operational.
The PSN DSARC delegation used the opportunity to congratulate the Regional pastor for the great vision of building a 40-bed capacity Rehabilitation facility to help reduce the problem of substance abuse in the society.
The PSN Chairman in his speech described the menace of drug and substance abuse as having assumed an epidemic level with far reaching consequences such high rate of Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, etc., loss of productivity, injuries and deaths due to accidents, inability to build a career, broken homes and failed marriages, crime, cultism, suicide and violence, etc.
The PSN chairman further explained that the PSN as a responsible professional group which caters for the medication needs of the society having observed the daunting menace of illicit drug use in the state and fully conscious of the adverse health, security and socio-economic implications in October 2017, established a Drug and Substance Abuse Reduction Committee (DSARC) saddled with the following mandate:
- To develop strategies to reduce the availability and distribution of illicit drugs through multi-stakeholder collaborative effort.
- To promote greater public awareness of the dangers of drug and substance abuse.
- Provide Sustained Support for persons with Substance Use disorders.
He further informed the clergy that the PSN on Tuesday November 28, 2017 organized a round table discussion where stakeholders from various sectors of the society developed actions plans for the actualization of the aforementioned mandate. He added that sequel to this, the Society on Wednesday 14th March 2018 embarked on a road walk to sensitize residents of Port Harcourt on the dangers of Drug and Substance abuse, tagged A WALK TO SAVE GENERATIONS. The Society also unveiled sensitization billboards at Rivers State University round about, University of Port Harcourt Junction, Choba, UTC Junction, etc. According to the Chairman, the PSN in her bid to increase the expertise and competencies of Pharmacists in providing the needed sustained support [as in item (c) above], sponsored seven (7) of her members for the first modules of United State Department of States recognized Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) for Substance Use Disorders organized by the Colombo Plan for addiction professionals which held from March 26 to April 3, 2018 at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.
Responding to the delegation, the Host, and Pastor-in-charge of Region 5, Pastor Belemina Obunge thanked the PSN DSARC for the visit, appreciated them for the great work of theirs to salvage humanity from the scourge of Substance abuse and addiction describing the menace as a destiny destroyer currently ravaging the youths of the nation and many adults as well. He pledged the support of his region for the activities of the PSN DSARC. He however suggested that the sensitization and enlightenment on substance abuse and addiction by the PSN DSARC be made more at the teenage churches. He also recommended the deployment of social media-based campaigns by the PSN DSARC as a tool to reaching out to young people given that they spend more times on reading materials via the internet than on print. The Regional Pastor was joined at the visit by Pastors Dikibo and Essien.
PSN DSARC Chairman appeals to Pastor Obunge to join the call for the federal government to fix the nation’s drug distribution system.
The Chairman of the PSN DSARC, Dr. Donatus Ijezie at the meeting also thanked the Regional Pastor for his warm reception of the delegation. He lamented the rise in the rate of drug and substance abuse in the country. The PSN DSARC Chairman who also is the Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) in the state, described the problem of substance abuse as the new mother of crime and revolution for the Nigerian society. He described the porous drug distribution system in the country as chiefly responsible for the easy access to controlled substances which are grossly abused by young Nigerians. He stated that drugs were items needed to be handled only by well trained professionals, Pharmacists who possess deep knowledge about the uses and adverse effects of these items and as such should not be traded by just anyone out there in the society.
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