Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (VGADA) to increase the capacity of over 1,000 medical practitioners within the FCT

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The Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (VGADA) a non-governmental organisation (NGO) has said that it would increase the capacity of over 1,000 medical practitioners within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Drug Harm Reduction (DHR).

The President, VGADA, Dr. Hope Omeiza stated this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Omeiza said that this was one of VGADA’s programs to commemorate this year’s June 26th International Day Against Drug abuse and illicit trafficking themed “Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives”.

NAN reports that the World Drug Day is marked every June 26 to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse.

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VGADA is one of the leading NGOs that have made tremendous impacts in reducing the effects of drug abuse in Nigeria.

The NGO boss said that the criminalisation of drug use, along with associated law-enforcement practices, increased vulnerability and negatively impacts access to services.

This he said, was among the factors driving the epidemics of HIV, viral hepatitis C (HCV), and tuberculosis (TB) among people who used drugs.

According to him, In many parts of the world, people who inject drugs are denied access to essential harm reduction services and support.

“This is including the provision of sterile equipment, opioid substitution therapy (OST), and the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.

“As a result, they are often forced to share and reuse equipment such as needles and syringes.

“This hereby, placing themselves and their sexual and injecting partners at significant risk of HIV infection and other harms, including overdose and death, ” he said

Omeiza said that VGADA believed that DHR is a pertinent approach required to win the campaign against drug abuse.

This he said was because the principles of harm reduction could complement other responses such as supply and demand reduction, all working in tandem to minimise the problems associated with drug use.

He added that the first responders and key professionals that drug users may first turn to for help or reach in case of overdose and other co-morbidities were the health care professionals.

He said that this could be at various levels of the healthcare delivery system ranging from primary to tertiary centers.

“Assuming that they are devoid of myths that foster discrimination; and that they are receptive and fully aware of harm reduction concept, principle and practices have been proven untrue overwhelmingly in many instances.

“This is why we are embarking on this project first within the FCT Abuja in building the capacity of at least 1,000 Health care professionals by training them on this all-important concept, ” he said.

The President of the Organisation said that the program objectives were to sensitise medical practitioners on drug abuse, create awareness and sensitisation on harm reduction principles.

“Other objectives include practice among medical practitioners, equip medical practitioners with information on an appropriate evidence-based response on drug abuse interventions.

“Raise the appreciation of harm reduction principles among medical practitioners, increase the availability of appropriate information on drug abuse, treatment services, and harm reduction programs at the communities and health care facility levels.

“Increase the commitment of medical practitioners on drug abuse campaign and harm reduction, increase the commitment of corporate, government and Non -Governmental Organisation in the campaign against drug abuse. (NAN).

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