Mr Kenneth Adu-Amanfoh, the Director General, Narcotics Control Commission (NACOC), says Ghana is making steady progress in the reduction of drug use and demand, which is a public health challenge.
Though he could not substantiate the claim with verifiable data, Mr Adu-Amanfo said the Commission was empowering the public to make informed decisions to reduce drug abuse and its related threats to health.
He said drug usage had become a regional concern across the West African channel, and stakeholders must work together to ensure that the threat was effectively and proactively addressed by the respective member state agencies and their partners.
The NACOC Act 2020, Act 1019, recognised that drug use was a public health issue, thus people with drug use disorders were treated with respect, dignity, and rehabilitated rather than incarcerated, he noted.
Mr Adu-Amanfoh said this at the launch of the third edition of the 2020-2022 West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) Report of Statistics and Trends on Illicit Drug Supply and Use in Accra on Monday.
The Report provides a comprehensive overview of the evolving patterns in drug supply and usage, empowering people to make informed decisions and implement effective strategies.
It also serves as a compass guiding the country through the complex landscape of drug-related issues in West Africa.
Mr Adu-Amanfoh said Ghana appreciated and understood the enormous national security challenges posed by illicit drug trafficking on its nationals and that of member states of ECOWAS, therefore, it was adopting evidence-based scientific approaches in treating persons with substance use disorders.
The country would continue to work closely with other member states in protecting borders, citizens and, more importantly, the youth, he said.
“It is incumbent upon us all to utilise this knowledge to enhance our preventive measures, strengthen law enforcement, and implement targeted interventions to address the root causes of drug-related issues,” Mr Adu-Amanfoh said.
He urged all agencies in West Africa and by extension the African Continent, to take the issue of illicit drug abuse and its related vices seriously.
Professor Fatou Sow Sarr, Commissioner, Human Development and Social Affairs, ECOWAS, in a speech read on her behalf, said the Commission had ensured the sustainability of WENDU, with measures put in place yielding the desired results.
The first WENDU Report covered 2014 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2019, and the third, 2020 to 2022, she said.
“It is our plan that the subsequent reports will be published yearly so as to make the reports more current than it is now, a credible and current WENDU report is crucial to improving evidence-based drug prevention and control activities both at the national and regional levels,” Prof Sarr said.
Ms Anna Lixi, Head of Governance and Security, EU Delegation to Ghana, said the absence of verifiable data on the prevalence of drug use in West Africa meant that the scale of the phenomenon had largely gone unreported.
She said the report would help inform tailored responses to address the social, health and economic consequences of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in West Africa.
Ms Lixi said since the inception of Enhancing African Capacity (ENACT), it had published relevant and accessible reports on a range of transnational organised crime issues and challenges affecting the continent.
“The analysis and insights generated by the ENACT project in turn serve to inform policy-makers and strengthen cooperation at the regional and international levels,” she added.
WENDU is an ECOWAS project aimed at improving the information base for policymakers from member states and Mauritania to address the social, health and economic consequences of alcohol and drug use through the establishment of a local sentinel surveillance network.