The International Youth Day was marked on August 12, amid preparations for the country’s 6th General Elections since the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1992.
Since youth are engaged or involved in many issues, leaders and some activists have decided to mark the ‘youth week’ by promoting peace, and strengthening campaign against drugs ahead of elections scheduled for October 28.
Mr. Ali Mussa Mwadini- Executive Secretary, peace activist and founder of the Zanzibar City of Peace Clubs working under the ‘Zanzibar Peace, Truth and Transparency Association (ZPTTA), organized a number of meeting with the youth to celebrate their Day while promoting peace and discourage engaging in drugs
“As we prepare for elections, let us reflect of promoting culture of peace even when we differ. We need peace now, during campaign and after a winner is declared,” Mr. Mwadini told youths as he also told them that engaging in drugs is criminal and affects health and ability to work.
This year’s theme for the International Youth Day is “Youth Engagement for Global Action,” which seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
Mr. Mwadini says their NGO is against the background of unnecessary violence and Conflicts of any course. “We are triggered by the resurgence of political misunderstandings between ruling and opposition political parties in every multiparty election in Zanzibar since 1995, which ends up with conflicts and distort social fabrics in Zanzibar.”
Home parents such as Mr. Hassan Omar, a parent to daughter recovering from substance abuse commended the government and activists for ongoing efforts to promote peace and war against drug business in the country, people in both mainland and Zanzibar believed the end of substance abuse was likely.
“We are happy to use this celebration to promote peace along with discouraging youth engaging in drugs. The problems have affected our families, we need to get back and enjoy life without political conflicts and drugs business,” the parents said.
He was joined by Ms. Asha Mohamed, a parent, to ask political leaders and aspirants in the coming elections to avoid use of provocative or insulting language during campaign so that youth do not engage in conflicts.
They also recalled initiatives started by President Dr John Magufuli on 2017 on crack down of drugs, as has yielded fruits, but need to be sustained particularly to hunt for drug traffickers and users along with destroying the illegal business network.
Streets and hidden areas used by drug users to smoke and syringe the drugs have been relatively not full of users compared to the situation before, as most of the addicted teens were on the run or arrested in connection with the drugs business.
Ms Mohamed a resident of Kundemba area, a notorious place for drugs use, both smoking and syringe said; “There is a relief, but we still need more efforts to break drugs network.” “We thank authorities in the Zanzibar and union governments for sparing no efforts in curbing drugs business including night patrol and spontaneous visit to suspected areas where the illicit drugs could be found,” she said.
National Commission for Coordination of Drugs Control (CNCDZ) has been campaigning to help the addicted youth or teens by supporting the sober Houses, and engaging them in entrepreneurship, sports, and counseling, with the objective to help curb substance abuse in the country.
Ms. Kheriyangu Mgeni Khamis- Executive Director, of the Commission says fighting drugs is promoting peace in the country and that if the young people do not use drugs, they are not engaged in conflicts.
“If we work together, engaging youth, we will definitely promote peace and our children will get out of the drugs menace,” Ms. Khamis said as Dr. Mahmoud Ibrahim from the Psychiatric hospital and anti Drugs Commission, blame importation of the illicit drugs for youths’ use of the prohibited drugs.
“The problem is still there, our youths are trapped in the business, either using it or trafficking. Let us continue taking our role to ensure that more youths avoid the drugs,” said Dr Ibrahim. He said awareness among young generation on dangers of drugs should continue, along with promoting peace, and the security units must find workable ways to stop drugs from entering the country.
Health authorities here estimate that almost one-per cent of the Zanzibar’s estimated 1.5 million people use drugs including about four thousand using syringe, raising health concerns particularly increasing spread of HIV and hepatitis B.
It was reported that in a year at least 19 drugs addicts had died due to various reasons linked to substance use including overdose, authorities at the ‘Zanzibar Psychiatric Hospital (ZPH).’ Data (2018) from ZPH shows that 290 out of the registered 435 addicted young people were adhering treatment, but some 19 died because of violating medication rules, provided by physicians during treatment.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the hospital Dr. Khamis Othman said “We appeal to the patients to observe treatment guidelines, and maintain close relation with medical staffs or risk death. While on prescribed medicine, some ‘patients’ use drugs which affect the body system.”
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been supporting the Hospital with medical equipment and medicines such as ‘DOA-kits urine test’ for testing: methadone, heroine, cannabis, benzodiazepine, cocaine, and amphetamine in the body.
According to several studies young people who abuse drugs are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviours such as fighting, political conflicts, and theft, and engage in unprotected sex which leads to higher risks of teen pregnancy, motor accidents, and increase their risk of blood-borne diseases like HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.