The Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) today held a one-day workshop which was attended by legislators from the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, senior police officers and officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
The purpose of the meeting was to sensitise and train MPs on drug policy reform and implementing harm reduction strategies in Zimbabwe.
It was also meant for the parliamentarians to be more informed and make informed and evidence based decisions in Parliament. Estimates show that 45% of young people in Zimbabwe have either used drugs or are at a high risk to begin using illicit psychoactive substances.
Illicit drug use has also proliferated new HIV infections, crime, violence and mental health challenges and the consequences are now manifested in most communities.
In his presentation, ZCLDN director, Wilson Box said Zimbabwe was grappled with many socio-and economic challenges and issues of drug use has become a cavalier.
“Of concern is the relationship between drug use and the spread of HIV/AIDS, drug use and mental health challenges. This training will give us a compass to where we want to take our country to,” Box said.
The deputy director for mental health at the ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr. Chipo Rwafa said the prevalence of alcohol and substance problems are one of the three diagnoses seen in mental health services in all ten provinces.
“Alcohol and substance use are a significant health concern affecting the health status of a nation, family life, community life and the national economy. Alcohol and substance use is linked to road accidents, interpersonal violence, domestic violence, suicides, as well as numerous health consequences,” she said.
Dr. Rwafa said alcohol alone is linked to over 200 diseases including liver disease, gastrointestinal cancers, hypertension and heart failure. She also said her ministry was working on finalising a national drug masterplan, which would be submitted before Parliament soon.
In her remarks, the chairperson of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, Goodlucky Kwaramba said female MPs would support the national drug masterplan when it is brought before Parliament.
ZCLDN programmes coordinator, Hilton Nyamukapa said there was need for Zimbabwe to adopt favourable harm reduction strategies that benefit People Who Use Drugs and not incarcerate them and treat them as social outcasts.