The private sector has been urged to work closely with government institutions to battle the rising abuse of drugs in the country.
The call was made by Innocent Turate, the head of Institute of HIV/AIDS Disease Prevention and Control at Rwanda Biomedical Center during celebrations to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking that were held on Thursday in Kirehe District.
Kirehe has the biggest number of drug abusers in the country. The theme for this year’s day was; “Let’s prevent drug abuse because it deters health and development.”
Turate said that with the increasing trend of drug abuse, more strategies should be sought to fight the scourge.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that in 2014 Ndera hospital received over 440 who use drugs and last year 2016, it received over 2800 patients for treatment.
Turate cautioned people to understand that the abuse of drugs not only affects the abuser’s health but also the development of the country in general.
“I think the effects of drug abuse can evidently be seen and this doesn’t show that these are the only people who were treated for the use of drugs in our country. It is a very big number for sure, this is why we need to work together to fight this,” he said.
He advised that if society is to fight this problem, the fight should start now otherwise effects will continue rippling through the country.
Research from the Ministry of Youth and ICT showed that 52% of youth between the ages of 14- 35 use drugs once or more than once in their lifetime while 7.5% are addicts.
“In fighting drug abuse we need to put effort in sensitizing about the effects of drugs.”
Gerald Muzungu, the Mayor of Kirehe pointed out that there cannot be development when there is use of drugs in society.
“If we want to be resourceful we need to fight the use of drugs, our district has a big number of users and this is not a good picture we need to portray and it all starts with us,” he said.
Muzungu emphasized that the country’s vision of development cannot be realized if such vices still prevail hence calling upon stakeholders to strive and see that the youth don’t dwell in drug trafficking and abuse.
“Let’s make this our slogan and target, we need to understand that the effects of drug abuse do not only affect the user but it affects the society at large this is why we all need to involve ourselves in the fight by reporting any situation that involves drug abuse.”
The Mayor pointed out murder as one of the consequences the district is facing as a result of drug abuse. In the last eight months, over eight people have lost their lives and the murders were related to consumption of drug abuse.
“People are losing lives, this is a war and we have to stand together, no one should be left behind. Let’s all fight to stop this and completely wipe out drug abuse.”
Patrick Rutayisire, a former drug addict testified that he used drugs for over fifteen years and that for him to stop the vice it was a war so tough he embarked on after realizing that nothing good came out of using drugs other than pain and self-destruction.
“I started abusing drugs as a result of peer influence; I thought it was something cool. It all started as something simple by consuming little amounts of cannabis, later I got addicted. It was hard, I was among the clever students but I was expelled because of this,” he recalled.
After realizing that his former classmates were now done with their universities and working with a bright future, he finally got the wakeup call.
“I later got to know I had taken the wrong path and decided to stop drugs but it was hard though I managed. I went back to school and now I own a construction company.”
Rutayisire called upon the youth to refrain from such habits because they not only affect their lives but also their future and that of the country.