The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Nigeria Customs Service have vowed to collaborate in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking, and use, and in curbing related organized crime.
NAFDAC Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola disclosed the development in a statement issued on Sunday, March 12, 2023.
He said the three agencies along with other stakeholders in the health sector made the pledge on Thursday in Lagos at the launch and dissemination of the 2022 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and Precursors Report 2022.
The Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye stated that the policy thrust of the Agency was to ensure availability, access and rational use of narcotics while preventing illicit use and abuse.
She informed that, in order to ensure adequate availability of controlled medicines, the Agency in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health carried out two quantifications of narcotics and estimation of psychotropic substances and precursors in 2017 and 2019.
Adeyeye said the results of those surveys provided the evidenced-based estimation of Nigeria’s national annual requirements of these substances and enabled the country to develop measures to achieve that delicate balance between access and control.
‘’According to the 2018 National Drug Use Survey, the prevalence of any drug use was 14.4% or 14.3 million people between the age of 15 and 64 years’’, she said, noting that this was comparatively high compared with the 2016 global annual prevalence of 5.6% among adult population.
The NAFDAC DG pointed out that the challenges arising from drug supply and consumption were not restricted to people who use drugs but had wider health, social and economic consequences on the family, community, and country.
The report, she stated further, revealed that Cannabis was the most commonly used drug, stressing that an estimated 10.8 per cent of the population or 10.6 million people, had used cannabis in the past year with the average age of initiation of cannabis use among the general population put at 19 years.
Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Chairman of NDLEA, Brigadier General, Buba Marwa, rtd. decried what he described as an upsurge in abuse of cannabis amongst the Nigerian youths with its attendant negative effects on the society.
He disclosed that the NDLEA with a view to addressing this problem conceptualized War Against Drug Abuse WADA which was launched by the Nigerian President, Mohammadu Buhari on June 26, 2021.
General Marwa who was represented by Mrs. Victoria Ekase, noted that NAFDAC had been ensuring that controlled drug essential for human survival were made available for use where necessary in line with the requirements of INCB, adding that NDLEA on its own part collaborates with NAFDAC in ensuring that the measures put in place to prevent diversion of such medicines and substances to illicit use are adhered to.
General Marwa pledged that NAFDAC and NDLEA would continue to collaborate with major stakeholders at all levels to develop an efficient value-chain and support system that will ensure access to narcotics and controlled substances for medical and strategic purposes while preventing diversion for illicit use.
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Alli, Rdt. who was represented at the event by Ag. Assistant Comptroller General, ACG, A.N Dappa, pledged the loyalty and support of the customs service in the task of ridding the nation of illicit drug.