The Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (VGADA) a non- governmental organisation (NGO), says it has planned to increase the capacity of more than 1,000 medical practitioners within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Drug Harm Reduction (DHR).
The president of the organisation, Dr Hope Omeiza, stated this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.
Omeiza said that the plan was one of VGADA’s programmes to commemorate International Day Against Drug abuse and illicit trafficking observed every June 26
The 2021 edition of the day is entitled: “Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives”.
The World Drug Day is to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse.
He said that the criminalisation of drug use, along with associated law-enforcement practices, increased vulnerability and negatively impacts access to services.
This he said, was among the factors driving the epidemics of HIV, viral hepatitis C, and tuberculosis among people who used drugs.
According to him, in many parts of the world, people who inject drugs are denied access to essential harm reduction services and support.
Omeiza said that VGADA believed that DHR is a pertinent approach required to win the campaign against drug abuse.
He added that the first responders and key professionals that drug users may first turn to for help or reach in case of overdose and other co-morbidities were the health care professionals.
He said that this could be at various levels of the healthcare delivery system ranging from primary to tertiary centres.
“This is why we are embarking on this project first within the FCT Abuja in building the capacity of at least 1,000 health care professionals by training them,” he said.
Omeiza also said that the programme objectives were to sensitise medical practitioners to drug abuse, create awareness and sensitisation on harm reduction principles.
“Other objectives include practice among medical practitioners and equip medical practitioners with information on appropriate evidence-based response on drug abuse interventions, among others,” he said.