|The African Union (AU) has begun integrating traditional leaders in drug dependency prevention treatment and care to widen the reach of community interventions amid a growing burden of substance use and related mental health disorders on the continent especially among youth, women and children. |
This comes against the backcloth of damning statistics from the African Union’s continental drug surveillance sentinel – the Pan African Epidemiology Network of Drug Use (PAENDU) – which captures the number and characteristics of people who use drugs and sought drug treatment/rehabilitation services on the continent.
A two-day meeting convened by the African Union Commission in Ekurhuleni, South Africa (01-02 November 2022) for the country’s Traditional and Khoisan Leadership culminated in the formation of a Chiefs’ national network of champions for drug demand reduction – the first on the continent. The meeting, organized in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and South Africa’s Department of Justice and Correctional Services, was aimed at affirming the role of traditional leaders as first line responders in addressing the challenge of drugs at community level.
“What we seek is collaboration of our Chiefs not consultation. The traditional leadership institution has remained a custodian of culture, customs, origin and history in many parts of Africa and its high time we integrate them in drug demand reduction interventions on the continent,” said Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma.