From Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti
In an attempt to rid Ekiti streets of mentally ill persons and give them proper care, the state government is set to enact a law to prioritise health services for those whose mental health have been adversely affected.
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Health, Dr Oyebanji Filani, said this on Friday in Ado Ekiti during an event marking “International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking”.
Speaking on this year’s theme, “Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives”, Filani said there was need to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse while raising awareness on the problems that are caused by drug abuse and trafficking.
He said the psychiatric department of the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), has been positioned to give help and robust services to persons who suffer from physical and mental effects of drug abuse.
‘The state is also working towards the enactment of the State Mental Health Bill that will ensure the needed resources, systems and facilities to take care of such affected individuals, he said.
‘It is my view that with verified, evidence-based information backed up with the necessary action, we can end drug abuse and illicit trafficking in our State and in Nigeria,’ he stated.
Warning drug abusers to desist, the commissioner stated that the consequences are often accompanied by a negative impact on a person’s social life and even on communities, including; job loss, strained relationships, violence and even poverty.
‘The increasing rates of armed robbery, terrorism, kidnapping, rape and other societal ills have also been linked to drug abuse, making it an issue of great concern,’ he said.
‘Hence, the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking should not be left to the government alone. It requires an all-of-society approach to adequately address the scourge.’
Filani maintained that according to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Ekiti State, over 60% of persons arrested as a result of illicit drug use and possession are male and female young persons between the ages of 14- 38.
‘There is an urgent need to identify sources of illicit drugs. They should be thoroughly investigated and litigated towards the sustainable ending of the scourge of drug abuse and trafficking.’
Filani said the state government will continue to carry out awareness programmes in schools, markets, Churches, Mosques, while also National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Market Women and Farmer’s Associations, to further amplify the messages.