Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jun 2003
Source: Pretoria News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2003 The Pretoria News.


Talking about drug abuse was "the only way to break the silence, stigma and 
exclusion that surround people who are drug-dependent", Kofi Annan, 
Secretary-General of the United Nations, said yesterday.

Annan's message, to an anti-drugs event in Cape Town, marks the 
International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed 
throughout the world.

In South Africa, the focus of the day was on Cape Town, where yesterday the 
"Ke Moja - No Thanks I'm Fine!" drug-awareness campaign was launched.

It is a joint operation between the United Nations Office for Drug Control 
(UNODC), South Africa's National Department of Social Development and the 
Central Drug Authority.

The theme of the campaign is "Let's talk about drugs" and Annan said that 
keeping silenct about drug abuse only ended up making the problem worse.

The Southern African representative of UNODC, Rob Boone, said at the launch 
that the number of coloured patients in Cape Town admitted for treatment 
due to heroin use doubled between 2001 and 2002.

Boone said that in the same time in Cape Town - the capital of the province 
worst affected by drug-related crime - the number of black-African heroin 
patients jumped five-fold.

He said that over the past year, South Africa had increasingly become a 
transit point for drug trafficking and the regional hub for illicit drug 
use, especially so for hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

According to the UNODC, the focus of the Ke Moja campaign would be on 
parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers and peers to talk to children 
and young people about drugs and to get them more involved in recognising 
the risks associated with drug use.

Annan said an estimated 200-million people worldwide used illicit drugs, 
translating into 4,7% of the world's population aged over 14.

He said drug abuse was often a result of underlying problems or a symptom 
of a broader malaise, and it was important to address the causes, and not 
just focus on the abuse in isolation.

There was no aspect of drug abuse that should be kept under wraps, Annan said.

"There are no stories of addiction so shameful that they should be buried 
or hidden, and there should certainly be no guilt attached to admitting to 
a drug problem and seeking help."

The executive director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, said in his message 
that drug abuse was a global problem because a veil of silence shrouded 
discussion on the issue. - Sapa
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