The national campaign against drug abuse continued yesterday in the Southern Province as senior government officials including ministers, engaged residents of Muhanga District to actively join the cause by reporting dealers.
The campaign also included destruction of illicit drugs which were seized in various operations aimed at breaking chains of supply.
The destroyed drugs are valued at Rwf11.4million. They include 730 litres of Kanyanga (crude gin), 6,402 pellets of cannabis and 138kg of cannabis, 5,700 liters of another locally made illicit brew and other contraband seized in three months.
Addressing residents at an event held at the regional stadium in Muhanga, the State Minister in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, highlighted the side effects of drug abuse, citing mental illness, liver and heart complications including non-communicable diseases.
“Globally, there is an increase in drug use and the biggest percentage of those are youngsters. Drug abuse also comes with contraction of several diseases like non communicable diseases,” he observed.
Majority drug dealers and abusers in Rwanda are also said to be the youth, comprising of the over 70 per cent.
In her address, the Minister of Youth Rosemary Mbabazi, said: “Those involved in drug trade do it in the most secretive way but still they get arrested because of the continued partnership with the people."
She added that research indicates that children start using drugs as early as 11 years and challenged parents to always keep an eye on their children.
“When your family is marred in wrangles and conflicts, you don’t accord your children proper care and pay close attention, that’s how some end up in drugs. These children are the future of our country and that’s why we will do all it takes to protect them.
“We have laws protecting whistleblowers, anyone who reports a drug dealer or abuser will be protected,” said Minister Mbabazi.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) in charge of Administration and Personnel, Juvenal Marizamunda said that the issue of drug abuse is of great concern.
“There are several types of drugs, some that come from the neighboring countries, others are locally manufactured. We are here to urge you to join efforts to protect the children, our homes and communities from thieves who are influenced by drugs, protect girls who are abuse by drug abuse and to prevent domestic conflicts and gender based violence, which are also largely caused by drugs," DIGP Juvenal Marizamunda said.
All these, he said, have a big effect to the country’s development and people’s welfare and security.
The multi-sectorial anti-drug abuse campaign is conducted by the ministries of Health, Local Government, Youth as well as Rwanda National Police, among others.
Similar sensitization campaigns were held previously in the Northern, Eastern and Western regions where illicit drugs valued at more Rwf300 million, combined.
Separate discussions with owners of hospitality facilities such as hotels, bars, restaurants and night spots; faith-based organisations; youth groups; grassroot leaders in some districts and former drug dealers have also been held.