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ECOWAS and UNODC Held a Review Meeting on the West African Drug Report (2014 – 2017)
L-R Fernando Yonge Barreto Costa, Esther F. Grant, Francis Kofi Torkornod, Kurt Cornelis, Oliver Stolpe, Dr. Sintiki UGbe, Mashood Oluku Lawal, Stefania MARRONE, Baba Hussaini, Dr. Abdul Jalloh

Abuja, 22nd July, 2019. ECOWAS and UNODC along with other stakeholders met in Abuja, on the 17th July, 2019 to review the first West African Drug Report (2014-2017). This is the first regional report on illicit drug trafficking and on the extent of drug use in ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania. It was prepared by the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The report is one of the key deliverables of the project “Support to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on Illicit Drug Trafficking, related Organized Crime and Drug Abuse in West Africa”, funded by the European Union (EU) under the 10th European Development Fund.

With the EU financial support, the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the UNODC worked tirelessly with thirty-one (31) National Focal Points of the 15 ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, nominated from the Ministries of Health, Interior, Drug Law Enforcement Agencies and Public Securities to put together the report.

Participants of the meeting

The Focal Points collected the data on drug treatment demand indicators and drug seizures and drafted the country-based reports which were subsequently transmitted to ECOWAS Commission and UNODC for further collation and analysis into a regional report. Furthermore, the regional report was validated at the 12th Inter- Ministerial Drug Coordinating Committee meeting of ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania held at the ECOWAS Commission, in April, 2019.

The West African Drug Report is the first attempt by ECOWAS and Member states to address the need to have relevant, valid and reliable data on drug use and illicit drug trafficking. Thus, the report provides evidence-based information on drug use patterns and trends to guide policy makers in the region to design and implement adequate responses that address drug supply and demand.
This report highlights the serious challenges drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking poses and how it undermines the socio political and economic stability of the region said Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, ECOWAS Commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender, who was represented by the Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Dr. Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe.

Other Participants of the meeting

The Representative of the UNODC in Nigeria, Mr. Oliver Stolpe in his remarks said that the West African Drug Report reaffirms that drug use prevalence and the rate of drug use disorder as well as drug trafficking are alarming. He said the report shows that the most frequently used drug across the region remains cannabis and the majority of persons accessing treatment facilities, do so to tackle cannabis related drug use disorder.

Of particular concern in this context is that one in five persons who access drug treatment services is aged between 10 and 19 years old. In addition, the use of opioids – in particular, the non-medical use of prescription opioids, such as tramadol appears to be growing most rapidly. He concluded his remarks, by indicating that the report being presented indicates that those most affected by drug use are the 20-29 year old

The Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Nigeria, Mr. Kurt Cornelis, in his good will message, commended the successful establishment and launch of the West African Epidemiological Network on Drug Use (WENDU), a novelty in the region. He said the data will help national authorities in the formulation of public policies and analysis of drug use and the health related aspects.

He recognized the latest progress and interest shown towards the fight against illicit Drug Trafficking and other organized crimes, as a demonstration of ECOWAS’ commitment to evolve in its role as the primary coordinating institution in the region. He called on all stakeholders to sustain the system and methodology implemented by WENDU initiatives over 3-4years, at both regional and National Levels.

Mr. Facis Koffi Tokenu of the Narcotics Control Board of Ghana, Mr. Mashood Lawal of the Nigerian Ministry of Health and Mr. Baba Husseini of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency delivered good will messages urging Member states to strengthen efforts to address illicit drugs use and for all to harmonize their laws and regulations so as to achieve a common goal across the sub region.

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