The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission yesterday launched two reports aimed at effectively tackling illicit drug use and trafficking in the sub-region.
The reports are the 2020-2022 West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) Regional Report and the Policy Brief.
The reports, launched in partnership with other stakeholders, would serve as a guide and improve the information base for policy makers from ECOWAS member states and Mauritania to address the social, health and economic consequences of alcohol and drug use.
It contains statistics and trends of illicit drug supply and drug use in the sub-region collected by the WENDU’s National Focal Points (NFP) in each of the ECOWAS member states and Mauritania.
The Director General of Nacortics Control Commission (NCC), Mr Kenneth Adu Amanfoh who launched the reports in Accra, said drug usage had become a regional concern across the West African channel, and underscored the need for member states to work together to ensure that the threat was effectively and proactively addressed.
He said, Ghana had made progress in the area of drug demand reduction, adding that “the NCC Act 2020, Act 1019 recognisesd that drug use is a public health issue, thus people with drug use disorders are treated with respect, dignity, and rehabilitated rather than incarceration.”
Mr Amanfoh said Ghana was also adopting available evidence-based scientific approaches in treating persons with substance use disorder, saying “our commitment to combating drug-related challenges is unwavering, and the insights garnered from the WENDU report will undoubtedly bolster our efforts.”
He stressed that Ghana appreciate and understands the enormous national security challenges posed by illicit drug trafficking on its nationals and that of member states.
He reiterated Ghana’s commitment to work closely with other member states in protecting the borders, citizens and more importantly the youth for economic development.
The Commissioner, Human Development and Social Affairs, ECOWAS, Prof. Fatou Sow Sar in a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, ECOWAS, Dr Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe urged member states to take the recommendations of the WENDU report and the policy brief into consideration in their drug control activities.
“The WENDU report and the policy brief will greatly assist our development partners in identifying the critical areas of drug prevention and control in West Africa that can be supported either as part of their ongoing programs or as new areas for collaboration,” she added.
She assured ECOWAS Commission’s commitment and continuous support to assist all member states and partners to effectively fulfill its role in “this important task.”
The Principal Programme Officer in charge of Drug Prevention and Control, ECOWAS, Mr Daniel Amankwaah, said one of the key findings in the report was the diversion of people from incarceration to drug treatment.
“Previously, we saw that people who use drugs were put into jail or prison for about five years for smoking marijuana. But this report has indicated that the landscape in West Africa is changing. People who use drugs, not all of them are put into jail.
There are some member states that recommend drug treatment for people who use, so this is one of the findings that is key in this WENDU report because the whole world is changing from incarceration to drug treatment,” he added.