Drug awareness week

Fred Wesley. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Fred Wesley. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

In June last year, the then Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy emphasised the protection of children during the launch of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Kalabu Primary school in Nasinu.

All homes in Fiji, he said then, should be mobilised to protect children.

While drug abuse had been in existence, he said, the worrying trend was that it was slowly stretching out its tentacles towards our children.

This week, Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts permanent secretary Alison Burchell, who was the chief guest at the launch of this year’s event, said the focus of the week should not only be on substance abuse.

She highlighted mental health, non-communicable diseases, teenage pregnancy among other important issues. The key is proper education about substance abuse and knowing the role one plays in overcoming bad life choices.

More than 300 students from various schools in Nausori were reminded of the importance of taking responsibility for their own health during the launch of the week in Nausori on Monday.

Sometimes, Ms Burchell said, we had to lead, and being a leader can be quite difficult because you have to say no to certain things that many are saying yes to today.

An event such as IDADAIT, she said, shouldn’t be observed only once a year.

We agree it should be observed on a daily basis.

National Substance Abuse Advisory Council chief executive officer Manoa Senikarawa acknowledged the Ministry of Education’s focus on the negative impacts of substance abuse and other health issues during the launch of the program.

This is an issue which is as frightening as it is worrying. We should worry about how much it can negatively impact the lives of our young people.

We all have a stake in the drug war. We have a responsibility to uphold important values that make life what it is in Fiji.

We can either create awareness about the place consumption of illicit drugs should have in society, or help it thrive.
They come in many forms, from marijuana to hard drugs such as ice, cocaine and heroin.

The drug trade is lucrative and has clothed and fed many who harbour no second thoughts of its harmful effect on users and their dependents.

To survive, those involved have adopted innovative ways to do business as police clamp down on the trade.

As the force targets dealers who are constantly adapting to their various methods of detection, it needs the support and encouragement of members of the public.

One of the dangers we face is “acceptance” — when the drug habit becomes an acceptable part of growing up.

We should value what is acceptable and discard what is not. There is a need for awareness at primary and high school level.

We should be realistic, and foster open and honest discussions. We hope a lot of thought is put into highlighting issues related to drug abuse, giving it the prominence it deserves.

More Stories