Drug and substance abuse among youths in the southern region of Zimbabwe has come under spotlight as reports of people falling prey to the scourge continue to grow unabated.
Armed with disturbing statistics on the prevalence, two non-governmental organisations, Active Youth Zimbabwe in conjunction with Youth Power Group have initiated a massive anti-drug project in the region.
This comes at a time when various schools in the city have courted media attention on drug abuse related cases.
As part of the many awareness programmes, the organisations will tomorrow host a huge campaign at the Large City Hall where various stakeholders including, government departments, local authority, ZRP drugs section and health experts will participate.
“We have realised that drug and substance abuse has been a major setback to our future leaders, hence our main focus on youth,” Active Youth Zimbabwe spokesperson, Romio Matshazi said.
Running under the theme “Learn to say No”, the organisations say they have mobilised around 3 000 youths to take part at an event at which Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi Moyo will be guest of honour.
“This is an area that has been overlooked, so as youth we want to infuse the information in an effective way while trying to collectively come up with the solution, hence our deliberately involvement of all stakeholders whom we feel have got to do with the issue at hand,” Matshazi said.
He said drug abuse had been linked to domestic violence, physical and emotional abuse, suicide cases as well as the high crime rate in the country. Such cases as unemployment, boredom, and peer pressure, he added, have been major causes of the scourge.
“Our research has shown that youth are the most vulnerable group when talking about this subject. Statistics from the Anti-Drug Abuse Association of Zimbabwe shows that up to 43 percent of students know of schoolmates found in possession of cigarettes.
“The reality today is that three out of five school-going children either abuse drugs, deal in drugs or engages in smoking or drinking alcohol before they reach the age of 18.”
Matshazi also said it was unfortunate that this had also led to the youngsters becoming mentally disturbed and ended up being admitted at psychiatric institutions like Ingutsheni Hospital.
This programme is a follow up to community programmes that the organisations have been conducting recently.