The Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development (COYPED) has made the latest call on the Government of Liberia to establish an institution that will be solely dedicated to drug prevention, care, support and treatment of substance users in the country.
According to COYPED executive director, James Koryor who was recently elected on consensus as Anglophone West Africa representative to the West African Network of CSOs on Substance Abuse (WANCSA) technical working group at the ECOWAS-UNODC Training for Civil Society Organizations on Drug Prevention and Treatment in ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania held at the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, if the Government of Liberia is serious to address the current drug situation in Liberia, there is a compelling need for the establishment of a national drug prevention, care and treatment institution independent of the Ministry of Health and the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency.
The COYPED boss furthered that in order to have this achievement, there is an urgent need for a major review of the current drug law and policies that will see the issue of drug trafficking becoming a non-bailable offense under the new law as well as the establishment of drug rehabilitation centers across the country.
Mr. Koryor also stated that ECOWAS with support from UNODC and EU is currently implementing the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan and this could be a perfect way to address the many challenges we have in the drug sector of the country and these institutions are willing to support Liberia drug strategy in prevention, care, treatment, and enforcement.
The anti-drug advocate stressed that as a focus person for the West African Network of CSOs on Substance Abuse (WANCSA) in Liberia, he will work with other CSOs working in the sector in establishing a national network that will enable CSOs in Liberia to consolidate their effort in data collection, advocacy, prevention, care and treatment-related activities including policy recommendation to the national government.
Mr. Koryor further stated that the recent training in Abuja, Nigeria brought thirty-two (32) civil society organizations together from sixteen (16) West African countries with the aim at enhancing sub-regional CSOs’ capability to identify and disseminate best practices and policies for preventing substance use particularly among vulnerable population, e.g. children, adolescents, young adults, etc.
The event consisted of training the representatives of the CSOs to better understand substance use and related behavioral health problems, improve their knwoledge on prevention science and the best practices in line with the international Standards on prevention Prepare and mobilize prevention systems and resources to address the needs of the most vulnerable population, particulary the young people, develop strategic plan, linking identified prevention needs to clear, mesurable outcomes, Identify, select and implement evidence based interventions, best pratices and policies including environmental strategies and enhance their skills in evaluating the effectiveness of their prevention strategies and practices Koryor asserted.
The youth leader also stated that the current situation of drug users in the country is alarming and needs the urgent attention of policymakers considering that there are over 77,000 substance users across the country who are young people. We believe that evidence-based prevention and strategic intervention should be considered now with the necessary investment of resources to cater for young people who are substance users.
We can not address any other national social problem without given consideration to drug abuse that is damaging our families, communities, and country Koryor stated.