Nqobile Tshili, columnist
Zimbabwe is experiencing an upsurge in drug addiction and most of those abusing it are young people.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro said concerted efforts are needed to tackle the growing problem of drug addiction.
He said this when responding to lawmakers at the Senate question-and-answer session recently after senators asked him how the government is tackling drug abuse in society.
Senators blamed the availability of cheap alcohol for the growing problem of alcoholism.
“These kids don’t just drink beer, they are introduced to drugs like crystal meth. When you hear them say “stick”, it means that when they take these medications, they can sit in one place for up to three days without feeling hungry or doing anything. We also hear that they are now going after diapers, even used ones. We have heard that diapers contain substances which, if taken by mouth, would make someone drunk, ”said Dr Mangwiro.
“We have heard this from doctors when some patients come to the clinic or to the hospital. We were told they wash and boil the diapers and drink the residue. We have also heard that some use fertilizers.
Deputy Minister Mangwiro said collective efforts are needed if the country is to effectively tackle the problem of drug addiction.
“A lot of kids, even those in high school, take drugs. We used to hear that it was prevalent in low density areas, but now it has spread to high density suburbs. We agree with what you have said and we will do everything in our power to prevent young people from using drugs. They will end up stealing household gadgets from their parents because they want to use the money to buy drugs. They can do anything when they are drunk, ”he said.
Dr Mangwiro said the country had never faced such high levels of drug abuse before.
He said the police, among other government departments, were carrying out investigations to establish who is importing the drugs.
“Our national policy says that drugs that are not allowed are not allowed in the country. Thus, they are introduced illegally into the country. The government, in collaboration with the Interior Ministry, is trying to curb the smuggling of these drugs and also to find the people who import these drugs, ”he said.
Deputy Minister Mangwiro said the government was working on plans to establish district and provincial level rehabilitation centers to help affected youth.
“These young people must be reintegrated into society because we are losing a whole generation,” he said.
Dr Mangwiro said there is also a need to step up drug awareness campaigns, as some of the young people who abuse drugs are unaware of their effects.
“During these campaigns we will try to explain so that children understand and know how dangerous drugs are,” he said.–@nqotshili