The 2022 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking presents another opportunity to all stakeholders to make a collective passionate appeal to all young people to desist from drug and substance abuse. Drug and substance abuse promotes behaviors that place young people at risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Ultimately, drug and substance abuse has an effect on mental and physical health. Substance-abusing young people are vulnerable to depression and suicidal thoughts. To guard against all these drug induced health problems, young people should make drug-free choices for the good of their health and their future.
This year’s theme: “Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises,” appreciates that drug and substance abuse also stems from crisis situations. Both natural disasters like cyclones and political conflicts and disputes make people vulnerable to drug and substance abuse as well as illicit trafficking. SAYWHAT will therefore continue to advocate for the protection of children and youths’ right to good health.
In the past six months, SAYWHAT recorded 27 cases of drug and substance abuse by young people between the ages of (15 to 24) years. This is disturbing and required urgent intervention. As a young people centered organization, SAYWHAT continues to provide free tele-counselling services that are accessed through our Contact Centre on the toll-free number 577. The organization is also assisting young people to access rehabilitation centers through the national referral system. The peer education program that institution is running at various higher learning institutions around the country is significantly helping young people to escape drugs and other harmful substances in addition to the ongoing awareness campaigns against drug and substance abuse.
While government has been making efforts to eradicate drug and substance abuse, through various measures, it is important at this stage to implore the same to pay attention to the fundamental causes of drug and substance abuse in our communities. Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is projected to be around 80 percent has condemned thousands of young people into informal economic activities. Informal economic activities are impacting young people’s sexual and reproductive health on many fronts.
SAYWHAT therefore calls on the government to urgently: