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COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE 1ST WEST AFRICAN FORUM ON DRUGS (WAFOD) ORGANIZED BY PEOPLE AGAINST DRUG DEPENDENCE & IGNORANCE (PADDI FOUNDATION) WITH SUPPORT FROM THE WORLD FEDERATION AGAINST DRUGS (WFAD).

THEME: MAINSTREAMING HEALTH AND CHILD RIGHT CONCERNS IN SUBSTANCE ABUSE POLICY, PLANNING AND PROGRAMMING IN WEST AFRICA.

LAGOS, NIGERIA. 8TH – 10TH JULY 2015.

COMMUNIQUÉ
 

CONCERNED about the aggressive efforts by some persons and organizations to ensure that countries in the West Africa sub-region alter their laws and policies to legalize some substances classified as illicit under international laws,

ALARMED at the likely impact on the West Africa sub-region of the legalization of illicit substances (particularly marijuana)

WORRIED about the implications on the rights and welfare of children, particularly the right to a meaningful existence and protection from harm) and overall Public Health of the legalization of addictive substances presently classified as illicit under international and domestic laws;

CONSCIOUS of the contiguous nature of countries in the West Africa sub-region and the fact that what affects one country eventually affects all in a very short time frame;

REALIZING that the lack of a committed Civil Society (CSO) and informed stakeholders response to the aggressive efforts to legalization of illicit substances might have sent the wrong impression that the West African sub-region and its peoples desired such affronts to commonsense;

ENCOURAGED by the convocation of the United Nations General Assembly on the Worlds Drug Problems (UNGASS - 2016) as a veritable means to announce to the world at large the views of the peoples of West Africa regarding Substance abuse laws, policies and programs; and

DESIROUS of ensuring that the voice of the peoples of the West Africa sub-region are heard at the global arena regarding issues of Substance abuse;

The participants at the 1st West Africa Forum on Drugs now resolve as follows: 

  1. In view of the weak economic situations of most countries in the West Africa sub-region, Drug Abuse Prevention strategies and programs, which have been proven to be cost effective, should take prominence over all others in addressing the Substance abuse scourge.
  1. Taking cognizance of the need to prioritize concern for Public Health and the Right and Welfare of Children in all matters, Substance abuse laws, policies and programs in the West Africa sub-region-rights should ensure that the interest of children and public health are held paramount.
  1. Targeted sensitization programs should be undertaken to enlighten and equip key stakeholders in addressing the Substance abuse situation, particularly Legislators, Policy formulators and administrators and CSO’s, with information that will enhance their efficacy and understanding of the dire cost on society of Substance abuse.
  1. There is need to actively and effectively seek the cooperation and integration of Religious and Community/Traditional organizations in ensuring success in activities geared towards curbing the adverse impact of Substance abuse on society.
  1. Substance abuse education should be effectively incorporated into the curricular of all academic institutions in the sub-region with a view to infusing into the Children and youth relevant prevention skills to avoid abusing substances.
  1. As is the case with tobacco products and alcohol, legalization of addictive products makes such products easily available to a population, and despite whatsoever safeguard measures put in place to prevent access of Children and Youths to such products, Children and Youths eventually, to their own and society’s detriment, find a way to access such products. 
  1. That addiction to substances should be recognized and addressed as a mental health infirmity and not strictly a crime-based issue.
  1. There is need to strengthen the manpower and infrastructure available across the West Africa sub-region for the treatment, care and rehabilitation of substance abuse related ailments.
  1. Taking into consideration the poor state of public health infrastructure and manpower, and the fact that basic/primary health care needs already overwhelm the health care system in the sub-region, the Legalization of some substances (presently categorized as illicit under international laws) will be most injurious to the already weakened public health care environment in the sub-region.
  1. The Governments and peoples of the West Africa sub-region should resist efforts being championed from forces external to the sub-region, to legalize some substances of abuse, particularly marijuana.  
  1. That following from this Forum, efforts should be increased, via the convocation of group specific summits, for instance, Youth Summit, Traditional Rulers Summit, Health Workers Summit, Legislators Summit, and so on, focused on galvanizing a unified response and approach to the sub-region wide Substance abuse scourge facing West Africa. 

10th July 2015
Lagos, Nigeria
Forum Secretariat
1st West Africa Forum on Drugs