National Drug Master Plan to be approved in April

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Boksburg – Cabinet is expected to approve the reviewed National Drug Master Plan (2013-2017) in April.

The Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, made the announcement on Monday during the inauguration of the new Central Drug Authority (CDA) board.

The plan serves as the country’s blueprint for preventing and reducing alcohol and substance abuse and its associated social and economic consequences on South African society.

The plan builds on the foundation laid by government’s previous strategies, with a particular focus on primary prevention. It advocates for collaborative, balanced and research-based approach interventions to inform policy and programmes.

Dlamini said the plan complements the Anti-Substance Abuse Programme of Action, which was approved by Cabinet in 2011.

“Government has demonstrated the highest level of political commitment by establishing the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Substance Abuse in 2010.

“We are encouraged by recent initiatives driven mainly by the IMC to strengthen government’s effort in the fight against the scourge,” Dlamini said.

According to the CDA’s 2011/12 annual report, alcohol and substance abuse remains a major development challenge in South Africa. 

The research shows that alcohol and substance abuse contribute to other social ills such as gangsterism, human trafficking, crime and violence against women and children.

Dlamini, who officially inaugurated the new members of the third CDA board, said alcohol and substance abuse was not a uniquely South African problem, but a worldwide phenomenon of “extraordinary proportions that threaten the stability and security of nations”.

“South Africa is no exception. If we are to conquer this war, it will not be as a result of government actions alone, but it will occur as a result of a coordinated national effort.”

Legislative reform such as the banning of alcohol advertising, increasing the legal drinking age and zero tolerance towards drinking and driving are some of the steps government has taken in a bid to reduce substance abuse.

Dlamini challenged the new CDA board members to play an integral role in developing initiatives that will bolster efforts to stem out drug abuse.

“Our collective responsibility is to deliver on government’s commitments for a society in which successive generations are free from drugs.

“Your diverse backgrounds, expertise and experiences in the field of law enforcement, medicine and community mobilisation must help us to strengthen and scale up our interventions, especially in areas where there is a high need,” Dlamini said.

She assured the board members that government was doing everything possible to provide effective and efficient support.

Dlamini said her department had taken measures to review and improve the Ke Moja Drug Awareness Programme (I’m fine without drugs), as the core of their prevention intervention at community level.

“The aim of investing in community drug prevention through Local Drug Action Committees is to build on the capacity of communities to recognise and develop an effective local response to drug issues that threaten their well-being.

“To date, we have 215 Local Drug Action Committees throughout the country, with 23 local municipalities still outstanding.

“One of the key mandates of the CDA is to increase this number and to enhance existing community initiatives with specific knowledge and skills to manage their own preventative work at grassroots levels,” said Dlamini.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Yolanda Botha, urged the CDA board members to be compassionate, considerate and objective.

“Substance abuse is one of the challenges that touch everyone. The issue of advocacy is very important. I hope that the quality of research you are going to use is something we can use to fight the scourge,” said Botha.

Popular kwaito artist Chomee highlighted the importance of spreading the message against drug and alcohol abuse at an early stage.

“If we don’t tackle this problem, we are going to lose our young people… We are against drugs because they are killing our nation,” Chomee said, urging the youth to say no to drugs. –