Govt widens blitz on drug and substance abuse

A CRACKDOWN on illicit drug dealers will continue under a new code name, Clean Up Zimbabwe, a senior Cabinet minister said
Having 200 culprits disinfected through arrests, off the streets of Harare, the operation previously titled Clean Up Harare Ghetto is to be scaled up across the country.
Substance and drug abuse is proving to a formidable national epidemic resulting in many youngsters filling up Hospitals with drug related admissions.
Addressing the press yesterday at a Post Cabinet Media briefing, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said they want to expand the scope against substance abuse beyond Harare.
“The Operation Clean up Harare Ghetto will continue and be code named Operation Clean Up Zimbabwe and extended to every part of the country with a focus to frustrating the activities of the criminal groups and neutralize drug and substance abuse,” she said.
Government intends to amend pieces of legislation related to drug and substance abuse.
“Review of the National Policy on Drug and Substance abuse and amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act which is up to date with the current illicit drug being abused in the country to increase penalties on drug and substance abuse sentencing,” she said.

She also noted that a national call centre for drug and substance abuse is on the cards.
“Establish a National Call Centre for drug and substance abuse which will provide online psychosocial support and related information,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Minister Mutsvangwa added that a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach has been adopted in order to arrest the situation.
“This includes intensification of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, rehabilitation, reduction of demand and elimination of supply and availability of illicit and over the counter substances and drugs on the market. The capacities, efficiency and activities of the police, justice and customs department will be complemented and strengthened.

“Cabinet noted with satisfaction the swift response by the countrys security forces which has resulted in the arrest of over 200 culprits involved in the trade of illicit substances and drug lords. These will face the full wrath of the law,” she said.

Government, according to the Information Minister, will also be identifying and upgrading existing mental health institutions that can admit affected children, youths and adults including a dedicated child psychiatric hospital in each province until they have recovered

“In the short term, Government envisions an Establishment of family support structures and facilities to address the negative impacts of substance and drug addiction on the immediate and extended family, for example, family clubs, churches and faith-based organisations. All local authorities to revive and expand the provision of youth clubs and other positive recreational facilities.

“Training workshops for supervisors and other relevant personnel to prevent and deal with substance abuse in the workplace.

“The media to play a critical role in increasing outreach and awareness raising through theatre, arts, edutainment, music and other multimedia platforms,” she said adding, “In the long term, the Integrated Skills Outreach Programme (ISOP) which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development will be strengthened, while the public is urged to take advantage of the Non-Formal Education programme under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. In addition, a study to establish the extent of drug use and abuse among youths as well as to identify the causes of the problem in order to come up with precise interventions address will also research, document and disseminate information on drugs and related issues in Zimbabwe.”

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