By John Ekongo
Last week Thursday, marked the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
In Windhoek, the day was celebrated with a clarion call by leaders to lead by example and revisit the issue of accessibility of alcohol and illicit substances to all and sundry.
The sentiments were expressed by the Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek, Junior Councillor Elsabe van Vuuren when she addressed community leaders, national lea-ders and the public at the United Nations Plaza in Katutura.
“Alcohol is quite easily accessible. Alcohol is advertised widely in Namibia, in addition to that, very well advertised,” said Van Vuuren.
The junior mayor emphasized that many adults, parents, teachers and leaders display and embrace a culture of alcohol usage in their lives, which sets a bad example to the youth.
“Teenagers lack vision and an understanding of the devastating effects that alcohol can have on their academic, sport, health and in the long run the future of the country,” revealed Van Vuuren.
It is estimated that in Namibia, according to a study made by the Ministry of Health and Social Services in 2003, alcohol usage in men aged 15-29 is common and it is further reported that 50 percent of men consume alcohol regularly compared to 20 percent of their female counterparts.
Deputy Minster of Health Petrina Haingura stressed that substance abuse is a major concern in Namibia. To effectively counter the problem, action must be taken in a coordinated manner and directed at the highest political level working in tandem with the administration, law enforcement agencies, legal system and the judiciary.
Haingura maintains that Namibia is not immune to this phenomenon and urges young people to stay away from substance abuse and alcohol usage.
Of late, Namibia has recorded an increase in drug usage, clearly demonstrating that the country is no longer a transit route but has now become a consumer society of drugs and illicit substances.
Globally, it is estimated that 26 million people take drugs annually. This represents about 0,6 percent of the world’s population, according to the United Nations Information Service.
Tobacco alone is responsible for 5 million deaths annually – in the age group of 16-54 years – while alcohol accounts for the deaths of at least 2, 5 million people.
The increase in drugs usage is attributed to the uncontrolled rise of opium harvests in the southern province of war-torn Afghanistan and in the jungle of Colombia.
“Recent major increases in drug supply from Afghanistan and Colombia may drive addiction rates up because of lower prices and higher purity prices,” revealed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna.