Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Drug Authority (NDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Church of Uganda to curb drug and substance abuse in Anglican secondary schools.
At an event held on Wednesday, the Archbishop Church of Uganda Stephen Samuel Kazimba Mugalu said this school-based drug abuse prevention strategy will not only see them form drug-free school policies across their 5,200 primary and 630 secondary schools, but have teachers and school heads trained on how to detect and handle cases as they arise.
He expressed worry that while Uganda is now being ranked the top consumer of alcohol in the East African region, psychiatric services for those that need rehabilitation after abusing the drug are very minimal.
Dr. Hellen Ndagijje who heads drug safety at NDA says they did a number of surveys and held discussions with school administrators which pointed to a fact that drugs are smuggled in schools in form of biscuits and other forms which are difficult to detect by administrators. She says among the most smuggled drugs are khat commonly known as kuba.
Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, the Board Chairman at NDA says while they have started by engaging the church, they will with time expand to carry out health campaigns with cultural institutions and also families. He adds that lately, parents have limited time with their children.
Globally, statistics indicate that drug abuse is on the rise and it is expected to increase by 40 percent by 2030. In Uganda, Bitekyerezo says the situation is worsening by the fact that up to 70 percent of the youth are unemployed and therefore find solace in such substances that give them a high.
He says in 2015 when NDA did a study in Gulu and Kampala, 70 percent of the youth acknowledged having used a form of a drug while more than 30 percent revealed to have become habitual drug abusers.
NDA will be operating in all the 37 Dioceses under the Church of Uganda where they will hold training and enroll in care for those that will come out to confess their drug abuse-related problems.