GIS– 10 May, 2018: The prevention of early use of drugs is not only one of the top national priorities of Mauritius but is also one of the world’s most pressing challenges, said the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, this morning at Le Sirius, Le Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, in Port Louis.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the opening of a workshop on the Development of a Drug Use Prevention Curriculum organised by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the CIM Group.
The Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, and the Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment, Mr Marie Roland Alain Wong Yen Cheong, as well as other personalities were present.
“If we want to effectively address drug-related challenges, we need to strengthen international cooperation and information-sharing to close the gaps and ensure that joint action is targeted, effective and timely’, said the Prime Minister. He announced that a National Drug Control Master Plan for the period 2018-2022 is currently being finalised. The Master Plan aims at having a safer, healthier population with effective policies for drug control and will empower institutions, communities and individuals in their response to drug trafficking and use, he added.
With regard to the prevalence of substance abuse among the youth, especially in schools and colleges, an upward trend is noted, said Mr Jugnauth adding that teenagers are vulnerable to addictive substances due to peer pressure. On that score Information and education remains an important tool to shield our younger generation from being afflicted by this scourge given that synthetic cannabinoids have now penetrated our schools and colleges and are threatening the well-being of our children, he cautioned.
According to Mr Jugnauth, the development of an education curriculum by the UNODC is one of the tools which will contribute to prevent substance abuse among young people thus reducing the risk of drug abuse. The curriculum will help build students’ knowledge and understanding of the consequences of drug abuse and improve their problem solving skills.
The Prime Minister outlined that drug use, supply, trafficking groups and the substances themselves continue to shift and diversify at an alarming speed with the new psychoactive substances market. Drugs continue to remain a major network but business models are changing and criminals exploiting new technologies are altering the nature of the illicit drug trade and the types of players involved, he highlighted.
“New ways of delivering drugs point to the need of involving other sectors such as postal services in the fight against drug trafficking, thus there remains an enormous need for capacity-building and technical assistance”, said Mr Jugnauth.
According to the Prime Minister close collaboration is required between Ministries, the private sector and the civil society to march towards a safer, healthier and more prosperous Mauritius. He conveyed his thanks to the UNODC for continually providing support in the fight against the drug scourge and extended gratitude to CIM Group for its contribution in the development of a Drug Use Prevention curriculum.
For her part Minister Dookun-Luchoomun, said that the prevention of drug use is a high priority on Government’s agenda and a zero tolerance policy has been adopted at the levels of her Ministry with regard to all cases of indiscipline, including drugs. She reiterated her commitment to maintain a safe and supportive environment for the youth community of Mauritius. All necessary efforts are being deployed to educate and empower our students on drug resistance and resilience skills to counter the drug scourge and thus maintain them safe and healthy, she added.
Ms Giovanna Campello, officer responsible for the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation section at UNODC’s Headquarters, , indicated that Mauritius’s initiative to implement solid evidence-based drug use prevention is in itself not common and the country has reached out to the UNODC in this exciting endeavour. We have a great task before us and we need to develop a prevention programme that works and build the resilience of our children and make sure they grow healthy and safe, she said.
The objective of the two-day event is to revisit and update the materials on drug prevention available in the curriculum so that the contents are aligned with the recent developments in the combat against substance abuse.
The workshop will empower participants to deal with the drug issue at school level including the prevention aspect, as well as strengthen the collaboration with stakeholders. Resource persons are Ms Giovanna Campello, UNODC, and Dr Reshad Abdul, Consultant UNODC. Some 60 participants, comprising representatives of NGOs, ministries and parastatal bodies are attending.
Under this initiative, CIM Group will sponsor three NGOs to conduct prevention sessions in six private schools in Port Louis as well as provide all supporting materials to the tune of Rs 2.4 million.
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