International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2022: NW, Cameroon Situation Reviewed

By Rose Afanwi 

In the North West Region, drug abuse and illicit trafficking is reportedly on the rise.. The consumption of drugs like marijuana, tramadol and alcohol have increased tremendously among the youth. 
Talking to some people on the streets of bamenda to identify the types of drugs youths consume and why, some people opine that youths take these drugs to muster courage  to carry out criminal activities while others believe that these drugs are consumed for prestige. 

Criminal acts like Rape, theft and murder are amongst the  crimes many in Bamenda say have increased over the years. The situation has aggravated with the close to five years ongoing armed conflict in the two English speaking regions of the country. Inhabitants of Bamenda attribute this rising phenomenon to abuse of drugs consumed at random. 

"I think Marijuana and tramadol are the drugs youths consume on a daily basis in Bamenda. Pharmacies still sell these drugs without the knowledge of the authorities. Marijuana is the worst because each time I sit at home I get the smell, sometimes when I move in the quarter the scent is all over and when I take a walk towards where the smell is emanating from like in some uncompleted buildings I find young boys in their teens smoking and looking very aggressive. It is an awful situation " Manka Grace  recounts what is happening in her neighbourhood
James a city dweller adds that alcohol and certain forms of cigarette not approved by the government are consumed abusively by youths to boost their self esteem .
"These young people take these drugs to feel high and do things that when they are normal they can not do. "

A medical practitioner in Bamenda warns that the abusive use of these drugs can lead to memory loss and stroke. Francois Njiyap a psychiatric nurse at the Bamenda Regional hospital also mentions that addiction to drugs and mental disorder are health challenges their unit has to deal with on a daily basis. 

Observers in the region have encouraged  youths to be discipline and desist from the consumption of these drugs inorder to leave a healthy life.
"Drug consumption among the youth in Cameroon has become not only a security issue, but also a major health problem. According to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data available in 2018, drug abuse in Cameroon caused 0.32% of total deaths, making the country 16th in the world. Moreover, recent studies carried out in 2015 reporting abusive drug consumption showed that 10% of cannabis and Tramol consumers were school-age youth and people living in precarious conditions. The drugs consumed range from traditional drugs to imported cocaine and heroin. The list of drugs consumed in schools include cigarettes, marijuana, cannabis, and amphetamine tablets. These years, Cameroon has attracted increased attention in terms of drug trafficking and transit. For instance, the economic capital Douala is increasingly described as a hub for illegal drug consumption and trafficking. The same observations are made in all other regions of the country, including rural areas. Recently, Cameroon’s anti-drug national committee (CNLD) released statistics on narcotic consumption in the country, revealing that 21% of the population has already tried a hard drug; and 10% are frequent consumers including 60% of young people aged 20-25." Dr. Vincent Brice Owona Ayissi,  Lecturer of Molecular Biology-Bioinformatics, Department of Biochemistry, University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon told the International Brain Research Organisation in an interview. 
According to a report by Business in Cameroon in 2018, the country's Anti-drug National Committee (CNLD) released statistics on narcotic consumption in the country, showing that 21% of the population have already tried a hard drug. 10%  are frequent consumers including 60% young people aged 20-25. Most demanded products include cannabis (58.54%), which is very often associated with tobacco, tramadol (44.62%) and cocaine (12.10%). Traditional makeshift preparations account for 7.59%, while solvents and heroin account for 7.36% and 5.70%, respectively.CNLD said that more than 12,000 young people under 15 also consume narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. “Cameroon, once considered by the United Nations as a transit country, is currently a country of destination for drugs, with regards to numerous seizures of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and psychotropic drugs registered in recent years,”   the CNLD mentioned.

The international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking was introduced by the united nations in 1987 to raise awareness on the problems of drug abuse in the society and adopt strategies that can bring about a drug free society. According to UN sources, the main aim of this day is to spread awareness about the physical and psychological impact of substance abuse, drug overdose deaths, and drugs-related problems across the globe.
This year, the day is observed under the theme  “Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crisis.” This addresses the different challenges the world is facing and tries to take steps to create a world free of drug abuse.

No major event has been organised in the North West. Reports confirm that events have been organised in schools and colleges around the world to educate students and inform them about the dangers of drug abuse.

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