Dr Nelson Aluya, a US-based Nigerian medical practitioner, has urged the Federal Government to employ data in the fight against the menace of drug abuse, drug use disorder and mental health among youths.
He said the use of data was essential and must be accessible for Nigeria to make progress in the fight against drug abuse.
Aluya said this via a virtual meeting, organised by the Re-Orientation Advocacy of Nigeria (RAN) in Abuja, as part of activities to mark the 2023 World Drug Day in Nigeria.
The meeting was attended by Mr Charles Folayan, executive director RAN, and Director General, Ann Foundation, Mrs Ann Ehigiator, in preparation for the flag-off of drug prevention, treatment and care programme across Nigeria.
Aluya, a professor of Medicine at the New Jersey Medical School and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Newark Community Health Center Inc, US, said data remained the first step to solve drug abuse.
He said Nigerians in the diaspora were working to support RAN to carry out a national research on drug abuse, especially the root causes, and come up with a blue print on strategy to stem drug and substance abuse in Nigeria.
Aluya also called on the government to build a template for fighting drug abuse which would be a way forward for the entire African countries.
He said drug addiction and overdose had become a global socio-political problem with severe economic implication.
“It is noteworthy that illicit drug trafficking, use and addiction constitute a significant share of the global burden of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, especially with those who are intravenous drug users.
“There is also a strong causal association of drug trafficking, drug addiction and increasing trends of violent crimes and now even terrorism,” he said.
According, it is disturbing that Nigeria as the most populous black nation and the largest economy in Africa is yet to initiate a clear direction and enforcement of its national policy or declaration on illicit drug use and overdose.
He said Nigeria had a pivotal role to play and should get ahead of the curve to champion this cause for Africa and other black nations to emulate. (NAN)