NAMIBIA— The Minister of Health & Social Services (MoHSS), Hon. Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, has commissioned the National Drug Control Commission (NDCC).

The MoHSS inaugurated the new NDCC to strengthen ongoing efforts to ensure that communities are protected from potential harm that is inherent in the trade and use of illicit drugs.

The ministry intends to improve national management, oversight, reporting, monitoring, and evaluation of the drug commission.

To this end, the NDCC will help implement measures to advance drug demand reduction and address health issues associated with drug use, particularly the use of injectable drugs.

The drug commission will also facilitate access to controlled drugs for medical and scientific reasons while preventing abuse.

The Minister said that the country faced an enormous challenge stemming from the availability of illicit drugs and other substances.

“We must recognize the profound impact the commission will have on the supply and demand reduction strategy. The commission will also play a leading role to coordinate various role players to reduce the harmful use of legal and illegal drugs,” the Minister reiterated.

Dr. Shangula added that the harm caused by using illicit drugs, such as the intravenous administration of heroin and other drugs, was devastating to the physical and mental health of the drug user.

He added that it could predispose them to a host of other illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and kidney disease, and these drug users are often subjected to social exclusion, which further perpetuates the cycle of illicit drug use.

Namibia reaffirming commitment to fight illicit drugs, locally & international

The new NCDC offers an opportunity for Namibia to reaffirm its political commitment to attain the objectives of the Ministerial Declaration under the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

The country has been regarded as a transit for illicit drugs and evidence from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) seems to show that there is an increasing number of users of illicit drugs of different ages’ including ‘children of a very young age.  

Namibia became a member of the United Nations at Independence in 1990 and has since ratified several Conventions on drug control.

More so the UN Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime of 2003, the UN Convention against Corruption of 2004, and the SADC Protocol against Illicit Drug Trafficking of 1996.

According to the minister, these international and regional legal instruments have informed the national commitments, tactics, and interventions to combat illegal drugs.

Furthermore, it will cover the implementation of efforts to limit drug supply, as well as combatting drug trafficking enablers such as guns, corruption, and money laundering.

“Hence, we should take decisive action to counter drug trafficking to safeguard all people in Namibia from the devasting and long-term effects of illicit drug use,” Minister Shangula added.

He stated that drug trafficking was usually the first link in the chain of other forms of organized crime, leading to poverty and inequality among the drug users while the criminals of organized crime enjoy their ill-gotten wealth.

According to the Minister, this also involves the implementation of alternative measures to incarceration for drug abuse and the promotion of proportionate age and gender sentencing.

NCDC’s role in the new resolve to fight drug abuse in the country

A MoHSS assessment on injecting drug use and HIV transmission risk in 2019, records that the most used illicit drugs in Namibia are cannabis, mandrax, and crack cocaine.

The assessment report further indicates that drug use is high amongst 18–35-year-olds and in addition to the use of illicit drugs, all use alcohol. 

In the same year, WHO recorded that Namibia consumes 2.38 of pure alcohol per capita amongst people aged 15 years and above representing a significant reduction from 4.24 per capita in 1999. 

The establishment of the National Drug Control Commission was approved by Cabinet in 1999 to oversee the implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP).

The Country is implementing its 3rd edition of the National Drug Master Plan for 2020 to 2025 and the appointment of the National Drug Control Commission will ensure that the pillars in the NDMP.

The Plan highlights interventions for tackling drug trafficking, such as developing and approving the terms of reference for the plan, ensuring implementation of the nine pillars, and establishing the Namibian epidemiology network on drug use.

The eleven National Drug Control Commissioners will have the responsibility to develop a comprehensive structure for drug control and enhance collaboration.

They have also been tasked with improving resource allocation, evaluating the effectiveness of interventions, and providing a strategic road map for evidence-based drug control strategies.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.