Faith-based organisations have laid out strategies to reinforce the national efforts in the fight against illicit drugs.
This was announced during a meeting of members from different religious denominations in the country organised by Rwanda National Police (RNP) and the ministries of Health and Youth, as well as Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), held at the Police headquarters in Kacyiru, yesterday.
The clerics adopted eleven resolutions that will guide their joint efforts in ensuring a successful campaign in combating psychotropic substances said to be the current major obstacle to youth development.
Among the resolutions include making awareness against illicit drugs part of their evangelism in their respective religious denominations, jointly taking awareness in youth groups and schools; engaging mentors including parents and teachers in parental care and proper upbringing of children and supporting victims or addicts in rehabilitation and reintegration process.
A week dedicated to raising awareness and fighting illicit drugs will also be held annually bringing together all faith-based organisations, civil society and other public institutions as well as holding a retreat very soon with all relevant government entities on how the existing national mechanisms against drug abuse can also be successfully implemented.
RGB was also tasked to constitute a taskforce bringing together faith-based organisations and civil society that will coordinate their joint campaign against drugs, follow up and evaluate their activities.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister for Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, and the State Minister for Public and Primary HealthCare, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, and attended by the Inspector General of Police Emmanuel K. Gasana and Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Chief Executive Officer of RGB.
It comes at the time when Police and the ministries of Health, Youth and Local Government are meeting different groups, including the youth, grassroots leaders, and owners of hospitality facilities on ownership and partnership necessary to reverse the trend.
Police statistics indicate that at least 18, 383 cases related to illicit drugs have been recorded in the country since 2013, with about 4470 of them registered last year alone, constituting 18 per cent of all crimes registered during the year.
More than 4100 drug dealers, including 3600 males, were arrested last year with those aged 18 and 35 years accounting for 71 per cent.
Minister Ndimubanzi said that some of the serious health complications among the young generation such as kidney, liver cancer, mental illness, and hepatitis B and C, are caused by illicit drugs.
“We are here to understand and respond to the problem together; to save families, support education and support victims by giving them healthcare and reintegrating them,” Dr Ndimubanzi said.
He said that medical services for those addicted have been availed at health centres and hospitals across the country, adding that the rehabilitation centres were established to reinforce the rehabilitation and reintegration process.
Minister Mbabazi: “The youth are the engine of our country; by protecting them from drugs we are paving way for our nation’s future and security. The country is investing a lot in youth through education, regional integration and cross-border trade. The success of such development mechanisms depends on how we guide the young ones today.”
The education system is also another area affected with majority dropouts said to be influenced by illicit drugs.
IGP Gasana said that illicit drugs present a serious bottleneck to the government’s vision.
“The security and health of the people as well as development of this country is the responsibility of us all, and we believe faith-based organisations have a key role to play in this noble cause of fighting drug abuse,” IGP Gasana said.