By G9ija

Public health experts and anti-substance abuse campaigners have raised concern over the rising rate of drug abuse as the world celebrates International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

They expressed their concern at an event organised by the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), Abuja Branch, to mark the Day on Sunday in Abuja.

The 2021 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking has as theme, “Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives”.

Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate, Pharmacist Otive Igbuzor, who chaired the event, expressed worry that the rate of drug abuse in Nigeria was about thrice the global average of 5.3 per cent.

He harped on the need to share research findings, evidence-based data and life-saving facts to combat the menace of drug abuse.

“Statistics show that drug abuse affects the youth more as 70 per cent of drug abusers in Nigeria are youth.

“The facts are chilling. A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2018 indicated that 14.4 per cent or 14.3 million people aged 15 and 64 years in Nigeria abuse drugs.

“This is very high compared to global annual prevalence of 5.6 percent. The drugs mostly abused are cannabis, opiods (tramadol, codeine or morphine) and cough syrups containing codeine.

“From all indication, a solid basis for global solutions to these challenges lies with the drug, crime and corruption conventions of the United Nations and drug policies of various countries,” he said.

In his keynote address, Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen.Buba Marwa (rtd) lamented that 90 per cent of criminalities in Nigeria was linked to drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Marwa who was represented by Mrs Chizoba Etuka, a director in NDLEA, solicited the support of everyone in tackling the menace.

“The phenomenon of drug abuse has reached a worrisome level. It will require collective effort to combat the menace,” she said.