Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Online Reporter
GOVERNMENT is set to identify and upgrade existing mental health institutions so they can admit drug abuse patients as part of efforts to tackle substance abuse among youths.
In her post Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said a dedicated child psychiatric hospital will also be set up in each province.
“Following the setting up of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on addressing substance abuse menace among the youth, Cabinet considered and approved the report which was presented by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Hon. P. Mavima as the Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
“Cabinet wishes to advise the public that in the short term the following measures are being taken to deal with the scourge of substance abuse among others: operationalisation of the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan (ZNDMP 2020 to 2025) and Treatment and Rehabilitation Guidelines of Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder of Zimbabwe (TRGASUD ZIM) and identifying and upgrading existing mental health institutions that can admit affected children, youths and adults including a dedicated child psychiatric hospital in each province until they have recovered,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said other strategies included identifying and improving community-based activities including establishment of parent support groups and patient support groups.
She a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach has been adopted in order to arrest substance abuse among youths. Minister Mutsvangwa said measures included intensification of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, rehabilitation, reduction of demand and elimination of supply and availability of illicit and over the counter substances and drugs on the market.
“Cabinet noted with satisfaction the swift response by the country’s security forces which has resulted in the arrest of over 200 culprits involved in the trade of illicit substances and drug lords. These will face the full wrath of the law,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said medium term strategies that will be implemented included review of the National Policy on Drug and Substance abuse and amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act which is up to date with the current illicit drug being abused in the country to increase penalties on drug and substance abuse sentencing.
She said a national call centre for drug and substance abuse will be established which will provide online psychosocial support and related information.
Minister Mutsvangwa said family support structures and facilities to address the negative impacts of substance and drug addiction on the immediate and extended family, for example, family clubs, churches and faith-based organisations will be established. She said all local authorities were expected to revive and expand the provision of youth clubs and other positive recreational facilities.
“In the long term, the Integrated Skills Outreach Programme (ISOP) which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development will be strengthened, while the public is urged to take advantage of the Non-Formal Education programme under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
“In addition, a study to establish the extent of drug use and abuse among youths as well as to identify the causes of the problem in order to come up with precise interventions address will also research, document and disseminate information on drugs and related issues in Zimbabwe,” she said.