Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jul 2012
Source: Daily Observer, The (Gambia)
Address: Gacem Road, Kanifing Industrial Area, P. M. B. 131, Banjul, The Gambia
Copyright: 2012 Observer Company Ltd.
Author: Omar Wally


Experts have disclosed that about 27, 000 people have mental disorder 
in The Gambia and that it is estimated that half of that number have 
been caused by the use of cannabis. This disclosure was made recently 
during a symposium on drug abuse situation in the Gambia organised by 
the National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative at the forum, 
Dawda Samba, said mental health and advocacy programme describes 
illicit drugs as chemical substance that are taken without medical 
prescription and have the ability to harm the person's physical, 
mental, and social health.

Samba disclosed that illicit drugs used in The Gambia are cannabis, 
heroine, cocaine, alcohol and diazepam (Blue Blue D5) etc. "A study 
revealed that about 27,000 people in The Gambia have mental disorder. 
It is estimated that half of this number (14,000) have mental illness 
caused by cannabis. Statistics from since 2009 have shown a steady 
increase caused by cannabis," he further disclosed.

Also speaking at the event, the public relations officer of the NDEA, 
Superintendent Abdoulie Ceesay, informed the gathering that the most 
commonly abused and used drug in The Gambia and many countries in the 
sub-region is cannabis sativa."In The Gambia as far as analysis and 
assessment of cannabis consumption is concerned," he went on, "there 
is evidence that the youths are more involved."

Superintendent Ceesay then explained the role of the NDEA, saying the 
anti-narcotics agency is an established security institution in The 
Gambia responsible for enforcing all drug laws and regulations 
inscribed in the Drug Control Act and any other subsequent amendment; 
regulating and controlling the in and outflow of both controlled and 
prohibited drugs; sensitising and educating the general public in 
particular the youths on the dangers of misusing drugs and give 
publicity to those dangers.

The chairman of the NDEA Board, Dr Omar Jah, who doubles as a dean at 
the University of The Gambia, speaking from the religious point of 
view on the use of drugs, said Islam prohibits drug abuse. "Most of 
the drugs used are detrimental to our health and mental lives and 
drug abuse can lead to a lot of social problems," he stated.

Jah, an erudite scholar further emphasised that the Islamic religion 
condems drug abuse given the fact that drug abuse including alcohol 
may lead to health problems, social problems, injuries, unprotected 
sex, violence and accident and even death or suicide.

Dr. Jah also stressed that the growing menace of drug case is a cause 
for concern and that the society should help in that aspect. He 
suggested that the government "should also provide alternative to 
youths who are drug abusers or addicts to engage in productive 
venture that will make them focus."

Reverend Allen of the Gambia Christian Council said Christianity 
equally forbids the use of drugs, stressing that the catastrophe 
caused by drugs cannot be overemphasised. "As far as Christianity is 
concerned, drugs kill the soul and the body of a human," he said.

"The drug abuse situation in The Gambia is indeed a very complex one 
and the churches have a role to play in that regard," he stated, 
while calling for tighter legislation against drug barons and producers.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom