Tsholotsho records highest drug abuse cases in Mat North Delagates attending Africa Day celebrations and anti drug and substance abuse campaign in Tsholotsho on Saturday

Mkhululi Ncube, [email protected]

TSHOLOTSHO District has recorded the highest number of  drug and substance abuse cases in Matabeleland North Province with 23 cases since January this year.

Of those cases, seven were diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis.

This emerged during an anti-drug and substance abuse awareness campaign held on Friday in Tsholotsho under the theme: “Say No to Drugs, Save

The event, which was part of the Africa Day celebrations, was organised by Nkanyiso Adventist Primary School and the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church.

Speaking during the event, Tsholotsho District mental health focal personnel, Mr Descent Mpala, said awareness campaigns across the district will be rolled out to conscientise members of the public about the drug scourge.

“Tsholotsho District is at the top in terms of drug abuse in the province. We report every Tuesday on cases that we would have dealt with in terms of drug abuse,” he said.

“Our district is on the top. We will be rolling out education campaigns in all the areas of the district so that we help fight this problem.”

Mr Mpala said the availability of drugs and the dumping of drug abuse patients at the Tsholotsho District Hospital by families were some of the  challenges they encountered.

He said they are forced to transfer some patients to Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo due to the non-
availability of mental hospitals and rehabilitation centres in the district.

“We have challenges with medications to administer to patients. The next step after being identified is to rehabilitate them, but we do not have this
facility so far,” said Mr Mpala.

“We send those who need special care to Ingutsheni Central Hospital. Some relatives give up on those affected such that they end up roaming the streets as they cannot afford to buy medication for them.”

Government has since approved the principles for the enactment of the Zimbabwe Drug and Substance Agency Bill.

The Bill paves the way for the establishment of an additional Security Service and specialised Drug and Substance Elimination Agency/National Drug Agency.

The agency will be responsible for the enforcement of laws that deal with drug and substance trafficking, use and abuse as well as co-ordinating efforts of othersupport services.
Mr Mpala said some people were abusing medication. He said drug abusers turned part of the antiretroviral drug regime into nyaope.

“Drug abusers use Efavirenz HIV pills to make nyaope. They experiment with it and get hooked and hence you will see some of these guys sticking,” he said.

“We were forced to remove the drug due to abuse. Some school learners at boarding schools sniff things like porridge and oranges and several  things.”

Mr Mpala urged parents not to abandon their relatives who are victims of drug and substance abuse.

SDA Tsholotsho East District pastor, Mr Mgcini Mhlanga, said there is a need for churches to complement Government efforts in the fight against drug and substance abuse.

“In essence, this was Africa Day celebrations and we decided to raise awareness against substance abuse. We think God’s objective of saving humanity, the Government’s objectives of developing the country, and the African Union’s objectives of improving livelihood in Africa can never be met when people are abusing drugs,” he said.

The event was attended by learners and teachers from Tsholotsho High, Magama Mission and Dawnview College, residents and Government officials.

Recent studies done in Zimbabwe revealed an estimated 7,1 percent of young people abuse drugs, with the most prevalent drugs being cannabis,
crystal meth, Broncleer, skin lighteners, illicit beverages and body enlargement products.

Children as young as 10 years old are now engaging in drug and substance abuse.

Last year, President Mnangagwa set up an Inter- Ministerial Committee on Drug and Substance Abuse to tackle the menace. Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri chairs the  committee and is deputised by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe.

— @themkhust

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