WFAD´s DRC Office & its partners with the support of the DRC Ministry of Public Health, Hygiene and Prevention Organised a Press Conference

On Monday 9 May 2022, the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) and its partners, with the support of the DRC Ministry of Public Health, Hygiene and Prevention organised a combined press conference at Maison de France in the municipality of Gombe with the financial support of the Swedish Cooperation. This media meeting aimed to present the results of the laboratory analysis of the sample of the famous drug ‘Bombé’ as well as the results of the pre-study on the mapping of organizations working in the fight against drug abuse in the city of Kinshasa, funded by the Swedish organization ForumCiv and carried out together with PNLCT (Programme National de Lutte Contre les Toxicomanies), the School of Criminology of the University of Kinshasa and Interactions DRC NGO.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a State Party to the international drug control conventions since 19th November 1973. Despite this political commitment at the highest level of the country, efforts to eradicate drug trade and circulation are struggling to be sustained for several reasons. The use of different drugs and the resignation of public services have given rise to multiple social phenomena, in particular street violence with the “Kuluna” phenomenon, which the State is struggling to control despite the existence of means of repression.

Mr Dandy Yela, WFAD Country Representative in DR,C said: ”Drug abuse is growing alarmingly in the DRC due to the excessive use of alcohol and all kinds of emerging drugs including the famous home-made drug ”Bombé”, a psychoactive substance which appeared only recently but whose consumption, particularly toxic, is spreading dangerously among the youth in Kinshasa.”

It is, therefore, more than urgent to raise awareness and to lobby institutions and authorities at all levels to put an end to the use of this drug, whose medium and long-term effects on the human body are still unknown,” he said.

According to the Director of the PNLCT, Mr Patrice Milambo, this new home-made drug is made from deposits from exhaust pipes mixed with Nutrilline (Cyproheptadine), Tramadol, and other substances making it a dangerous cocktail for human health. Consumed mainly by young people, this drug makes them sleep for several hours. There are also other psychological manifestations that are not well known and its toxicity is unpredictable. It is used in two ways: the snorting and the injectable ways.

On 25 August 2021, PNLCT collected a sample of the famous drug ‘Bombé’ in Kinshasa – Lukunga to be more precise, which was sent to KU Leuven in Belgium through the Department of Toxicology of the University of Lubumbashi for physicochemical analysis.

The sample collected was analysed at the toxicology laboratory of KU Leuven directed by Professor Jan TYTGAT by the Triple QUAD-LC MS/MS method and confirmed by Q-TOF-MS. PNLCT with the support of the Ministry of Public Health, Hygiene, and Prevention had the opportunity not only to share the results of these analyses but also to present the planned actions in order to contribute to the fight against the consumption of this very harmful substance, especially in the youth environment.

Laboratory analysis using TRIPLE QUAD LC-MS/MS (a powerful analytical technique that combines the separation power of liquid chromatography with the highly sensitive and selective mass analysis capability of triple quadrupole mass spectrometry) revealed the presence of heroin, morphine, codeine, noscapine, thebacon, papaverine, abundant quantity of caffeine, and paracetamol. This analysis was confirmed by the Q-TOF-MS method (a mass spectrometry detection technique that allows molecules to be detected and identified by measuring their mass-to-charge ratio).

However, these results are based on the analysis of a single sample so far. PNLCT has already collected samples from other locations for further laboratory analysis, as investigations have shown that there are several types of the drug ‘Bombé’. Analyses of the other samples will allow a final conclusion to be drawn on the composition of this substance which is harmful to human health.

Continuing in the same chapter on the fight against drug abuse in the DRC, WFAD has obtained funding from the Swedish organisation ForumCiv (a Swedish development cooperation organization working in the field of human and civil rights) to carry out a pre-study on the mapping of organisations working in the fight against drug abuse in Kinshasa.

Thus, from November 2021 to April 2022, WFAD and its partners PNLCT, the School of Criminology of the University of Kinshasa and INTERACTIONS DRC, conducted a pre-study. The main objective of this pre-study was to map NGOs working in the fight against drug abuse in some municipalities of the city of Kinshasa. WFAD and all partners who worked on this project took the opportunity to present the results of this pre-study conducted in the field. 

WFAD had set up a tri-partite steering committee to lead the pre-study composed of the Ministry of Public Health, represented by its specialised programme PNLCT, and the University of Kinshasa represented by the School of Criminology. The field investigations were launched in January after a 5-day training session on the KoBocollect data collection and analysis application for all investigators, and 5 municipalities in the city of Kinshasa were visited, namely Kinshasa, Makala, Ngaliema, Selembao and Barumbu, which constitute the WFAD intervention area in which an important project to support and take care of Kuluna youths is being carried out, called “Sober Youth-Healthier Communities: Transforming Violent Youth in Kinshasa”, funded by the Swedish Cooperation.

Professor Raoul Kienge Kienge, the Director of the School of Criminology at the University of Kinshasa said: “The pre-study report presents the context in which it was commissioned, the specific objectives, the methodology used, the presentation and interpretation of the results, the strengths and weaknesses as well as a conclusion with some recommendations.”

The pre-study revealed that the drug abuse fight in the 5 selected municipalities is managed by civil society organisations (mainly structured as non-governmental organisations, socio-cultural associations, and faith-based organisations), as no state initiatives have been identified. Indeed, it is clear from this pre-study that 77% of the organizations identified work at the national level, compared to 20% at the local (provincial) level and 3% at the international level. Most of the organizations identified work in the field of prevention (46%), and the treatment of drug abuse is the area of activity in which the organizations identified are least active. On the whole, the organisations identified offer psychological support as the only approach to care, whereas there is a need for holistic and integrated care in health areas through psychosocial support, detoxification and weaning. The full report will be released in the coming days.

It thus emerges that faced with the immensity of challenges related to effective management of drug abuse, the pre-study shows a deficit of adequate response.

WFAD and partners intend to conduct a more extensive study of the whole city of Kinshasa and even of the whole country in order to have an exhaustive mapping of all actors involved in the fight against drug abuse in DRC.

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