‘Like the fight against civil war, Ebola, COVID-19 the fight against ‘kush’ is a war we will win’ -Chief Minister

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By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Chief Minister, Dr. David Sengeh, has expressed optimism that like the fight against the civil war, Ebola virus and COVID-19, Sierra Leone is going to win the fight against kush and drug substance abuse in the country.

He was speaking at the opening of the first ever drug rehabilitation centre  located at the Peace Mission Centre, Hastings, Western Rural, where he noted that the opening of the rehabilitation centre was a big day for the country and especially for youth of the nation.

“Like the civil war, the war against Ebola and COVID-19, the fight against kush and drugs is the war that we will win. Post-civil war we had the triple ‘R’ which is rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration and we are going to do same for the fight against kush,” he said.

He further noted that the opening of the centre was a shared commitment to the future of the country and the event showed action that when Sierra Leoneans work together great things are possible.

He said few weeks ago, President Julius Maada Bio launched the National Development Term, noting that the effort of the president to become a middle income country will not get started if they did not focus on the youth of the nation.

He said the medium age in Sierra Leone is 19, which means that half of the country’s population is below 19 while the other half is above age 19.

He said that was why when the President summoned the cabinet to holistically address the issue of drugs in the country, he was very clear to them that he wanted an inclusive transformational and long-term solution for the fight against the intake of harmful drug substance in the country.

He said they were aware that different sectors, organisations and individuals have called for the government to address the drugs abuse situation in the country, calls which they listened to and have been working tirelessly to address the situation by supporting bye-laws in every chiefdoms and others, including appointing Peace Ambassadors to ensure that they engage young people that are into drugs.

He said it was symbolic that the first rehabilitation centre is at the Peace Mission Centre and that the fight against drugs and kush is just the latest war in Sierra Leone.

Minister of Social Welfare and Children’s Affaires, Melrose Karminty, said the opening of the rehabilitation centre showed that government commitment in the fight against kush.

She said the move was a big action to promote recovery and reintegration of kush users.

She said kush and other substance abuse is destroying the country’s youthful population who are supposed to be productive citizens, stating that drugs have social and health implications.

She said drug abuse poses fundamental challenge to the nation and the government’s big five game changer, stating that if the youth that are made up of a majority of the population are not in sound mind, it means the country is in trouble. 

She said the President has requested that the fight against kush should be multi-sectorial and multidimensional for the eradication of kush in the country.

UNFPA  Country Representative,Nadia Rasheed,said United Nations recognises that substance abuse is a challenge to health,  human rights,  peace and security and to sustainable development.

 She said the substance destroys families and relatives and promote violence community.

She said the rampant use of drugs amongst youth in the country has become up pressing concern in Sierra Leone with detrimental effect physical mental health and that trend has the potential to undermine the development of the nation and fight against drug abuse required a comprehensive approach.

Minister of Health and Sanitation Austin Dembye said the president had stated that the kush crisis is a concern to all sectors in the country and said when people are taking drugs it affects all their body parts and because the blood is not circulating to their foots it start to swell  and eventually become a sour.

He said when that happens, all the person needs at that point is good care and promised that his Ministry is going to ensure that they give support to all the sectors in the fight.

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security  Lansana Dumbuya said drugs affects the productivity of the workforce in the country, noting that drugs takers cannot meet the Labour force requirements of eight hours and that is why it not good to be taking drugs substance.

Minister of Youth Affairs Mohamed Oman Bangura said the country today has more youthful population than ever and that if the use of drugs is not controlled it will affect the youth sector of the country.

He said even though,  Sierra Leone was not mentioned in the 2023 drugs report but that did not stop the president from putting things in place to ensure that the fight against drugs abuse is treated seriously.

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