The head of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), Joseph Sumo, made the statement iIn remarks on behalf of Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn at a joint press briefing with the Chairman of the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD) in Monrovia recently.
Sumo said government is beginning to look at the public health implications of
illegal use of drugs as a way of dealing with the matter.
He disclosed that due to the seriousness of the matter, the Ministry of Health Mental Health Department has drawn up an agenda to take care of the issues of drug use in the country.
The LMHRA boss, however, pointed out that the fight against the use of illicit drugs should be done through inter-agency collaboration approach, focusing on both the mental health and criminal implications, especially with traffickers.
“It is about time that we begin to see the consumers of illicit drugs as victims and traffickers as criminals; those found in ghettos and other unwholesome places are our youthful generation we depend on to take over the leadership of our country tomorrow,” Sumo stressed.
For her part, WACD Chairperson, Dr. Mary Chinery-Hesse recommended that Liberia’s drug control response move beyond just law enforcement or repression, noting that the problem should be seen as a public health issue that should be prioritized in the development agenda.
Dr. Chinery-Hesse observed that drug users who need help are driven underground because of stigmatization and criminalization of drug use.
She spoke of the need for reform and called on government to invest in evidence-based prevention programs, harm reduction, treatment and rehabilitation of drug users.