Online indaba on substance abuse in Africa

Experts will tackle substance abuse in Africa this week.
Experts will tackle substance abuse in Africa this week.
Image: File

Experts fighting substance abuse across the globe will put their virtual heads together for the first time this week, and the focus is Africa. 

The SA chapter of the International Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals (Issup) is hosting the first virtual conference to convene international panels of government officials, experts in public health policy, NGOs and healthcare professionals to discuss trends in drug demand reduction across Africa.

“SA is experiencing a scourge of substance use disorders, like many other countries in Africa,” said Roger Weimann, president of Issup SA and the director of the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca), Central Eastern Cape.

“This unique conference takes place in the wake of heritage month celebrations. It is an opportunity to become part of the solution, to take collective action to intensify substance use prevention and treatment efforts. It is a platform to deliberate and share and ultimately support an integrated holistic approach for Africa by Africa.”

Participants will convene for a series of six online plenaries between September 16 and November 10.

 The conference will be hosted in partnership with the African Union Commission, Sanca, department of social development, Organisation of American States Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS/Cicad), and the US state department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

 This historic event is the first time digital technology has been used to enable an international audience to gather and discuss the issue of drug demand reduction in Africa, with a core focus on prevention and treatment strategies based on the latest epidemiological research.

Amira Elfadil, the commissioner for social affairs at the African Union, said: “Africa, like the rest of the world, is experiencing its fair share of drug use and drug use disorders. For us to achieve the Africa we want, an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, no one must be left behind.

“Recognising drug use disorder like any other health condition, we must collectively step up action with requisite responsive policies and programmes.”

Approaches to prevention and treatment that have great potential for rapid impact are expected to feature prominently throughout the conference.

Plenary sessions will preview high-level discussions, provide key insights into regional action on substance use prevention and highlight successes and obstacles in treatment practice faced by practitioners who are forging new solutions at the national level.

Alongside analysis of global and regional trends in drug use, the opening plenary on Wednesday will feature presentations on the African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention (2019-2023) and Global Initiatives by INL.

The full conference programme can be found at https://www.issup.net/about-issup/issup-workshops/africa-2020-virtual/full-conference-programme. 


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