A six-month anti-drug abuse campaign that has been running since last month has been extended to Iwawa Rehabilitation and Training Centre where officials tutored the youth at the centre about health, legal and economic effects of abusing psychotropic substances.
In a meeting at the centre on Tuesday, the Head of National Reference Laboratory at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr Jean Baptiste Mazarati, spoke at length about the dangers of abusing illicit drugs and why several institutions embarked on a long-term campaign against drug abuse.
“The destruction drugs have on communities is immense and we can’t wait for those destructions to come. We must prevent them through such campaigns and also discourage irresponsible consumption of alcohol, especially by the youth,” Dr Mazarati said.
“Drug abuse not only negatively impact the wellbeing of the individuals consuming it, but also leads to other grave social ills such as crime, rapid spread of diseases, poor health and low success rates in education.”
Over 4000 youths at Iwawa attended the meeting.
The Western regional Judicial Police Officer, Theobard Kanamugire, took the youth through the legal aspects involved in either selling or abusing drugs.
“We encourage you to concentrate on developing your vocational skills and your better future. There’s no better future in abusing drugs,” Kanamugire said.
He told the youth that making, distributing, consuming and trafficking illicit drugs and psychotropic substances is punishable under articles 593 to 598 of the Penal Code.
Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the head of mental health department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, also warned of the effects of drug abuse to individuals, families as well as the general public.
“Drug abuse increases the risk of engaging in sexual acts and contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and number of non-communicable diseases affecting the liver, heart, and kidneys,” Dr Kayiteshonga said.
The six-month campaign focuses on prevention and treatment of mental disorders and is being jointly run by several institutions, including the Ministry of Health and Rwanda National Police.
The campaign also involves sensitisation by health providers on their role in prevention and creation of anti-drug abuse clubs in schools, and sensitisation through the media.
A similar campaign by the ministry last year, according to official statistics, reached over 1,795,000 people.
The campaigns target all categories of population including the youth, students, adults and parents reminding them of their role in preventing drug trafficking, use, transportation, production and distribution.