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UNODC and FMOH Launches Drug Harm Reduction program in UPTH

In 2018, a United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC's) sponsored survey revealed drug use prevalence of 14.4 percent amongst Nigerian's aged between 15 and 64 years, which is 3 times higher than the global prevalence rate of 5.5 percent. Highlighting the need for intervention for drug use reduction in the country.
To curb this menace, the UNODC collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) is piloting "Drug Demand and Harm Reduction" projects with targeted projects for execution. The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) is one of the centers for program execution. This necessitated the visit of the director in charge of Drug Demand and Harm Reduction from FMOH, Dr. Jimoh Olawale Salaudeen.
An insight on the project in the country revealed that "it is now very clear that the issue of incaseration and punishment is not working, what works is the health sector's intervention" to reduce the demand and harm for drug users. Moreso, he disclosed the associated problems with drug use, some of which are blood born diseases among which is HIV, Hepatitis B, C and so on. According to report "injecting drug use accounts for approximately 10% of HIV infection globally (UNAIDs 2020), and an estimated 23-39% of new HCV infections occur among people who injects drugs" (WHO 2022).
The Needle/Syringe Program has started in earnest, Abia, Gombe, Oyo states were the pilot states of intervention. Now Rivers, Cross Rivers and Lagos states are second stage states where the program is executed and it's helping the harm reduction because drug users are found to be involved in sharing of needle and syringes while taking the drugs increasing the risks of infection. In optimism the program will aid the reduction of blood born diseases.
Dr Salaudeen commended the UPTH Mental Health Center, he said, "UPTH is one of the model drug addiction treatment center in Nigeria, I can see that space is being provided, recreational facility provided, the personnel are on ground, definitely recovery will be achieved as far as UPTH is concerned".
Dr.Jimoh Olawale Salaudeen was accompanied by Dr Michael Kingsley and they were received by Prof. Lucky Onotai (CMAC),Dr. Ken Nporbu (HOD of Drug Unit) and the Mental Health team.
 

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