WINDHOEK -The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Juliet Kavetuna yesterday spoke out against the mushrooming of shebeens, saying its effects has a detrimental impact on Namibian society.
Kavetuna spoke at a media briefing on the occasion of the annual international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, which is observed on June 26.
“There are people who are justifying the mushrooming of shebeens as a means of poverty alleviation,” said Kavetuna.
She opined that alcohol abuse is ruinous to society.
“Society needs to wake up. We are getting in a serious situation and the most productive people are dying,” said the deputy health minister.
She added that with abuse of alcohol are financial implications, where families suffer financially because money is spent on alcohol.
People are most likely to be more reckless under the influence of alcohol and other substances, added the minister.
“When you are drunk you don’t have a straight mind to protect yourself,” she said.
Some parents send their under-age children to buy alcohol for them while some shebeen owners sell alcohol to under aged children, she added.
She further said, there needs to be better mechanisms in assuring that children under the age of 18 do not buy alcohol.
Kavetuna also spoke about the importance of educating children and young people on the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol abuse, by providing them with information, support and coping mechanisms to deal with challenges without resorting to substance use for comfort.
“It is essential that parents, teachers, communities and the youth are educated about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse, so that they can identify early signs and symptoms of substance abuse so that they can identify the early onset and refer the affected person for help,” said Kavetuna.
Substance abuse has many potential physical, mental and social effects on users such as increased risk of injury and death.
“Abuse of different substances is often the reason for declining grades, high absenteeism, school drop-outs as well as involvement in crime and gang related activities, all which are detrimental to the future of children and youth,” said the deputy minister.
She also reacted with concern to a comment by a learner of the Jakob Marengo Secondary School who stated that “drug is very good for our bodies. It will help us feel nice and it makes us hot in this cold weather. It also protects us from getting HIV. Sometimes I think I can fly somewhere (sic)”.
Kavetuna said the comment is an indication that there is a lack of proper awareness, counselling and guidance from parents, social workers, teachers and society at large.
“I cannot understand how drugs can protect someone from contracting HIV,” added Kavetuna, saying on the contrary; using drugs creates the risk of contracting HIV.
According to Rene Adams, the Control Social Worker in the health ministry, Namibia has become a user country of drugs. “It shouldn’t be like that. We are concerned. Our hearts are bleeding for our children,” said Adams, in response to a question on whether drug abuse is a concern in the country.