GASD Wants Drug Prevention Prioritized By: Julius Konton

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The Global Action for Sustainable Development-GASD a registered non-profit organization working on evidence-based substance abuse prevention and drug policy reform in Liberia has made the latest call for substance abuse prevention to be prioritized in the county.

According to the GASD Executive Director, James Koryor, ‘if we are to address the substance abuse problem in the country, the Government and stakeholders should now focus and prioritize drug prevention to ensure that school going kids and vulnerable youth are safe and prevented from taking in substances by supporting and investing in evidence-based substance abuse interventions that are less expensive in terms of cost.’

Mr. Koryor who is a certified Human Rights and Drug Policy Advocate and an Evidence-Based Drug Prevention Professional has also cautioned the Government to fully implement the ongoing At-Risk Youth Program with a clear intent that will see targeted beneficiaries going through treatment, rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration.

The GASD head furthered stressed that  since the Government launched the At-Risk Youth Project in June 2022 targeting thirteen millions United States Dollars for implementation, it was just recently in late August 2023 she begin the recruitment of vulnerable drug users across Montserrado County, something he pointed out is welcoming, but however stated that it will be prudent for the Government to provide information on the current number of targeted beneficiaries per county and gender as well as the overall budget, stating the amount that is provided by the government and what amount partners is providing as well.

“We hope the project will make significant impact on the drug treatment and rehabilitation situation in the country and be sustain over a period of time to ensure that the success rate is high, and not just another political activities for a short term” Koryor stressed.

As civil society actors, James indicated that they will remain engage with the relevant government institutions that are managing the project to get needed information to enable them track and measure impact in a move  to promote transparency and accountability in the fight against drug in the country.

Koryor also stated that with the passage of a new drug law, it is now time that government adequately supports the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency that has been underfunded over the years.

 Major reforms, he said,  should be considered at the LDEA to include restructuring of the manpower and employment of professionals who should be tested during recruitment as well as a comprehensive background check.

It is time that we address drug prevention and rehabilitation of substance users in a more consolidated way by establishing a specialize and dedicated institution through an act of legislature to be fully supported by the national budget and GASD will lead engagement with key stakeholders to have a unique agency of government established soon with the coming in of the 55th legislature in January of next year.

According to him, if the country is to significantly reduce drug abuse among the children of Liberia including its  youthful population then it is paramount to look at every areas including; drug laws and policies, drug law enforcement, drug prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and recovery through a fully supported and specialized institutions.

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