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ZCLDN engages primary healthcare workers

ZCLDN engages primary healthcare workers

BY STAFF REPORTER

The Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) on Tuesday engaged primary health workers as part of the organisation’s capacity building programme aimed at drug use harm reduction.

ZCLDN is an organisation that is committed to advocating for the rights and welfare of people who use and inject drugs through harm reduction, drug policy reform and prevention.

One key component of ZCLDN’s programming is the engagement of key stakeholders in drug use, hence the convening of the meeting with primary health workers drawn from the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s Mental Health Services department.

The workshop, which was held under the theme Health Personnel Capacity Strengthening on Illicit Drug Use Harm Reduction:Paving way for drug user friendly health service delivery, was meant to increase healthcare providers’ knowledge of alcohol and drugs that are commonly used.

It also discussed the contexts in which drug or alcohol use occurs.

Participants were also given a sense of comfort in discussing drug- and alcohol related issues with clients in the clinical setting.

ZCLDN projects executive director Wilson Box explained some of the commonly used drugs in the country which include marijuana, Codeine-based substances, Crystal meth, Illicit brews, Cocaine, Heroin, Domestic substances and Ecstasy, among others.

According to Box, Zimbabwe does not have official data on drug or substance use because a population size estimate has never been done before although anecdotal evidence points to a lot of illicit drug use on the ground in the country.

“It is estimated 60% of young people aged between 16 and 35 years could have used or are using drugs or substances. Sixty percent of admissions to mental institutions is linked to drug and substance use,” Box said.

“Drug use at the workplace is also on the increase and 30% of youths are on crystal meth,Guka Makafela or Dombo.”

Box explained the importance of harm reduction when dealing with a scourge like drug use.

“Harm reduction involves taking action through policy and programming to reduce the harmful effects of behaviour,” he said.

“It involves a range of non-judgmental approaches and strategies aimed at providing and enhancing the knowledge, skills, resources and supports for individuals, their families and communities to make informed decisions to be safer and healthier.”

He urged participants to promote community involvement to harm reduction initiatives through building rapport and trust within the community.

Box said primary health workers need to establish relationships within the community, raise awareness about prevention, care and social services for HIV/AIDS, STD’s drug use addictions and homelessness.

He said there was need to educate the community about resources and current services within the community as well as support communities and build self-esteem among targeted populations.

According to Box, respecting the community and the people within it is a fundamental principle of harm reduction.

A representative from the Provincial Medical Director’s office Sister Zephaniah said they appreciated the work that ZCLDN was doing, especially in capacitating mental health workers.

“From last year,this is now the third training session that they have done,” she said.

“We look forward in working with them since Harare now has a mental health directorate headed by Dr Hove.”

Dr Patience Mavunganidze, from the Mental Health Services department, hailed ZCLDN, Health and Child Care ministry as well as the Interministerial Drug Committee for coming up with the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan (ZNDMP) (2020-2025).

The ZNDMP offers both an integrated and comprehensive approach that addresses a range of drug related issues.

Dr Mavunganidze said there was need to widen intervention programmes for drug use in the country, arguing that there was lack of political will in supporting drug users in recovery and quitting.

 

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