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City steps up fight against drug abuse among youth


A two-day workshop on substance abuse spearheaded by the City of Johannesburg’s Health and Social Development Department this week unanimously agreed to re-adopt the 1999 National Drug Master Plan as a way of continuing the fight against the scourge.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Cllr Mpho Phalatse said it was important to protect young people, who represented South Africa’s future, against drugs.

“We decided on this workshop to align our programmes and have consistency in our efforts to fight against substance abuse,” she said.

Cllr Phalatse said the youth were the most vulnerable of all the groups.

“[This] is a social ill that is a cancer that is fast eating on the social fibre of our families and communities,” Cllr Phalatse said.

She said the City was committed to taking part in all initiatives seeking to fight and prevent drug abuse. Phalatse told delegates – who included the youth, students, young adults and parents – that the City had a defined role to play in the fight against substance abuse.

Cllr Phalatse said Act 70 of 2008 – the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse Act – made provision for the City to establish a local drug action committee to represent it. She said one of the functions of the committee was to compile an action plan to combat substance abuse in communities.

Phalatse said community participation was crucial in this fight. “Our partnership with community structures and ordinary members of our communities will pay dividends. Our young people are the most vulnerable and it is the prerogative of the municipality to protect them,” she said.

She said although efforts by the City and other stakeholders were impacting positively on the fight against drug and alcohol abuse, more still needed to be done.

The key outcomes of the 1999 National Drug Master Plan include:

Reduction of the bio-socioeconomic impact of substance abuse and related illnesses;
Ability of all South Africans to deal with problems related to substance abuse;
Development of recreational facilities and diversion programmes that prevent vulnerable people from becoming substance dependants;
Reduction of available dependence-forming drugs and alcohol;
Development and implementation of multidisciplinary and multimodal protocols for integrated diagnoses and treatment; and
Harmonisation and enforcement of laws and policies to govern drugs and alcohol.
The workshop pledged to identify and capacitate recreational facilities in regions to implement, monitor and evaluate programmes directed at fighting substance and alcohol abuse and the creation of an environment free of drugs and alcohol.