Ghana has been ranked the third cocaine transit destination in Africa behind Nigeria and South Africa respectively.

According to the 2016 World Drug Report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the illegal shipment of cocaine comes from South America en route to Europe and Brazil.

The report again named Ghana as among the top four countries in Africa reported as the source of cannabis herb to Europe.

Roger Vanderpuije, the Greater-Accra Regional Commander at the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), disclosed this at the 2017 World Drug Day celebration in Accra.

The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Listen First’ (listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe). He consequently urged government to take appropriate steps to curb this menace.

“I humbly call on the government, as a matter of urgency, to pass the Narcotics Control Commission Bill 2015 to give NACOB more powers to effectively do their work,” he stated.

Vanderpuije explained that La Dade-Kotopon Municipality was chosen to mark this year’s World Drug Day as a result of intelligence picked on the ground about the increasing rate at which the youth are engaging in illicit drug abuse, especially cannabis in the community.

According to him, the office has started sensitisation programmes in the community by engaging the schools, various churches and the general public in the community.

“It is the hope of the office that the government resource the board in the discharge of its activities and we also call on the donor community to support our work.

“We call on everybody to be part of this crusade against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking because it is destroying our children, the society and denting the image of the country internationally,” he added.

Vanderpuije said this year’s theme gives greater responsibility to parents, guardians, religious leaders, governments and the civil society to work towards the fight against drug abuse and addiction among the youth for a better future.

The success of any nation is in the hands of its future generations hence our duty to listen to them and offer them the needed attention, support and advice.

The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of La Dade-Kotopon, Mrs Gladys Mann-Dedery, pledged to partner NACOB to help put a stop to drug abuse in her municipality.

“I do not want to see any of you here in a poor state and my prayer is that in future you all will excel and contribute to the development of the country,” she said.

Richard Opare, an ex-drug addict, advised the students to stay away from drugs. He used his life as an ex-drug addict to advice all students against the use of drugs as it would only destroy their lives and make them miserable.

Logosu Amegashie, the head of Addictive Disease Unit at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, advised students to desist from taking drugs as well as shun peers pressure to use drugs since it harmful and destroys lives.

He advised the students to stay away from marijuana if they wanted to be very responsible and resourceful to their families and the country in future

Stanley Eyivor, the Divisional Supervisor for Enforcement at NACOB urged students to listen to their parents and teachers and also advised parents to draw close to their children.
United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, in a message called for commitment to reduce drug abuse, illicit trafficking and the harm that drugs cause, and to ensure that our approach promotes equality, human rights, sustainable development, and greater peace and security.

He said Portugal now has one of the lowest death rates for drug use in Europe.
“In 2001, Portugal had the highest rate of HIV amongst injecting drug users in the region; since the introduction of the new policy, this rate, and rates of all sexually transmitted diseases, have decreased dramatically. Overall drug use rates have also fallen” he said.

Despite the risks and challenges inherent in tackling this global problem, he said “I hope and believe we are on the right path, and that together, we can implement a coordinated, balanced and comprehensive approach that leads to sustainable solutions”.