Faith-based organizations have joined a national campaign against use of illicit drugs.
All religious denominations in the country have agreed to partner Rwanda National Police (RNP) and the ministries of Health and Youth, as well as Rwanda Governance Board (RGB),
The agreement was reached during a meeting held at the RNP General Headquarters in Kacyiru on Monday.
The clerics adopted eleven resolutions that will guide their joint efforts in ensuring a successful campaign in combating psychotropic substances believed to be the current major obstacle to youth development.
Among the resolutions include making awareness against illicit drugs part of their evangelical activities in their respective religious denominations, jointly taking awareness in youth groups and schools; engaging mentors including parents and teachers in parental care and proper upbringing of children and supporting victims or addicts in rehabilitation and reintegration process.
A week dedicated to raising awareness and fighting illicit drugs will also be held annually bringing together all faith-based organizations, civil society and other public institutions.
A national retreat will also be organised soon with all relevant government entities to discuss how the existing national mechanisms against drugs can be successfully implemented.
RGB was tasked to constitute a task-force bringing together faith-based organizations and civil society and coordinate their joint campaign against drugs. It will also follow up and evaluate their activities.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Youth Rosemary Mbabazi and the State Minister in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, and attended by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana and Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Chief Executive Officer of RGB.
The meeting came at a time when RNP and the Ministries of Health, Youth and Local Government are meeting different groups including the youth, grassroots leaders and owners of hospitality facilities on ownership and partnership to tackle the problem.
Police statistics indicate that at least 18, 383 cases related to illicit drugs have been recorded in the country since 2013, with 4470 of them registered last year alone, constituting 18% of all crimes registered in 2017.
More than 4100 drug dealers, majority 3600 males, were also arrested last year with those aged 18 and 35 years accounting for 71%.
Dr. Ndimubanzi said that some of the serious health complications associated with drug consumption among the young generation include kidney, liver cancer, mental illness and hepatitis B and C.
“We are here to understand and respond to the problem together; to save breaking families, support education and support victims by giving them healthcare and reintegrating them,” Dr. Ndimubanzi said.
He said that medical services for those addicted have been availed at health centres and hospitals across the country, but added that the rehabilitation centres were also established to reinforce the rehabilitation and reintegration process.
Minister Mbabazi said that, “The youth are the powerhouse of our country; by protecting them from drugs we are paving way for our nation’s future development and security. The country is investing a lot in youth through education, regional integration and cross-border trade. The success of such development mechanisms depends on how we guide the young ones today.”
The education system is also another area affected with majority dropouts said to be influenced by illicit drugs.
IGP Gasana said that illicit drugs pose a serious bottleneck to the government vision.
“The security and health of the people as well as development of this country is for us all; it’s an individual and collective ownership, and we believe faith-based organizations are key in this noble cause to fight drugs,” IGP Gasana said.