By Eseoghene Emuke
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Delta State chapter, has called for a more reinvigorated efforts by relevant stakeholders in tackling the rising cases of drug abuse in the country.
Delta NMA particularly blamed myriads of societal ills including insecurity arson and rape, which currently pervade the length and breadth of the country, on hard drugs among youths.
Their position was contained in a communique issued at the end of the association’s annual general meeting and scientific conference held in Asaba, Delta State from 4th to 8th of august, 2021.
The conference with its theme, “Substance Abuse: A Precursor to Insecurity and Its Health Implications in Nigeria’’ had in attendance; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, represented by the State Health Commissioner, Dr. Ononye Mordi Ononye; HRM Obi (Prof.) Chike Edozien, Asagba of Asaba; HRM (Dr.) Joseph Aghagba, Regent of Irri Kingdom and other dignitaries.
The communique, signed by Delta NMA chairman and secretary, Dr. Nwose Emmanuel and Dr. Okoacha Innocent respectively, highlighted some dangers of substance abuse to include debilitating ailment like Cardiac failure and cancer.
The body lamented that if nothing is done by relevant stakeholders including government at all levels to checkmate the ugly situation, the country might be sliding into a dangerous path.
“Members at the AGM/SC noted with utmost concern the increasing prevalence of substance abuse among Nigerians particularly the youth, leading to economic, security and health care challenges in our country. The conference noted the impact of substance abuse on health, public safety, crime, productivity and governance.
“It was highlighted that substance abuse can affect virtually all organs and systems, causing varying health challenges ranging from disturbance in appetite or sleep to more debilitating ailment like Cardiac failure & cancer. The health effects, both direct and indirect, are heavy burdens on the healthcare system.
“Also, the use of substances has been discovered to facilitate criminal acts because most crimes such as armed robberies, arson, rape, kidnapping, and acts of terrorism, are usually committed under the influence of hard drugs.
“It was posited during the conference that curbing substance abuse requires the commitment of all stake holders including the government, health professionals, educational and religious institutions, parents and community leaders”, the communique partly read.
It, however, advocated amongst others, collaboration among strategic agencies responsible for importation and regulation of controlled medicines, public awareness campaign on the risks associated with substance abuse, provision of educational and employment opportunities to the youths, greater involvement of parents in the guidance of their children and strengthening of the marital institutions as some of the ways to tackle the problem.
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Delta NMA also expressed concern over the high taxation of its members by the state government, saying that the situation “has made doctors and other healthcare workers to leave the services of the state to where they have a more favourable tax regime.
“Painfully, some experienced and competent colleagues have left the State because of high taxation, and this ultimately affects efficient healthcare delivery to Deltans.”
The association appealed to the Governor Okowa-led government to grant doctors and other healthcare workers tax waiver as was done in Edo and Kano States in the past.
While commending the Delta Government for improving the welfare of doctors and other healthcare workers, particularly the prompt payment of monthly salaries, the body expressed satisfaction with the domestication and implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in Delta State.
“The AGM noted with pleasure the memo from the Delta State Ministry of Health prohibiting some officers of the Nigeria Police and acclaimed Human Right Activists from harassing doctors carrying out their legitimate duties.
“We, however, urge members to be professional while discharging their duties by avoiding unethical conducts.
“AGM observed with concern the challenges private clinic owners face with the revenue agents throwing numerous bills at them.
“We call on the State Government to issue a circular from the Ministries of Health and Finance with details of what the private practitioners should pay. This will go a long way to avert direct conflict between our members and revenue agents”, the communique added.