In an effort to fight the scourge, the City will hold an anti-drug summit on September 21 at the Diepkloof Welfare Centre, Region D, to unveil its multi-pronged strategy.
“More than 400 stakeholders have been invited to the summit. They include, among others, departments in the city and province, law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organisations in the drug prevention and treatment space and the private sector,” says Cllr Mpho Phalatse, the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development.
“This administration has declared war on drugs. We’re rolling out five new outpatient facilities in areas such as Tladi, Eldorado Park, Westbury, River Park in Alex and the inner city.
“For a long time we’ve done our people in. Young people are caught up in the horrific cycle of abuse and that must come to a stop,” says MMC Phalatse.
She says drug addicts are not only dealing with their drug problems, but with the latest method of sharing drugs such as the so-called “Bluetooth” method during which addicts exchange blood, increasing their risks of contracting blood-borne diseases.
“Our community health workers will be trained on how to assist with recruitment and referral. Drug users are our regular patients as they are exposed to more diseases since they don’t get proper health care. Drug abuse is a disease on its own,” says Cllr Phalatse.
“Many of the addicts want to quit but they don’t know where to turn to in terms of detoxing. What makes it worse is that the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable. They say it feels as though they are dying. Therefore facilities will be offering drug detox services as well,” says MMC Phalatse.
“There will also be a 24-hour crisis line that will be linked to the city’s emergency call centres that will deal strictly with drug abuse.”
Community members are also urged to report drug dealing in their neighbourhoods in order to help rid the City of drugs and encourage addicts to make use of these facilities and help build a healthier Joburg.