Dr. Mary Chinery- Hesse and Adeolu Ogunrombi mentioned it is imperative that government considers drug problem as public health issue and prioritize it within the broader national development agenda and move beyond enforcement of the laws.
Addressing a news conference Thursday following discussions with the Ministries of Justice, Health, Internal Affairs, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Liberia National Police, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, Dr. Mary Chinery-Hesse indicated that policies of the government have not helped drug users in Liberia.
According to her, WACD observed that drugs users that need help are driven underground because of stigmatization and the criminalization of drug use. But she stressed that these substance users are in dire need of government response by the provision of evidence-based programs, harm reduction, including their treatment and rehabilitation.
Dr. Chinery-Hesse said, “even though drugs have destroyed many lives, current policies have not helped either. The punitive methods used to contain the drugs menace have led to unintended consequences; a huge black market has emerged and is fuelling corruption in Liberia and the sub region; domestic drugs consumption is on the rise”.
“Many young people find themselves in prison and come out more hindered than they went in and there are established cases of HIV infections as a result of injection drug practices,” Dr. Chinery- Hesse lamented.
For his part, David Sumo, head of the Liberia Medicine Health Product Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), indicated that the government of Liberia has instituted measures aimed at addressing some weak drug policies.
He named the establishment of the LMHRA and mental health units in Major health facilities as initial steps taken by the government to curb the situation in the country.
He pointed out that the government intends to get drug users engaged in ventures including agriculture as it is capital intensive to hospitalize every drug addict in the country.