By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Arising from its roundtable conference on drug abuse in Kano last month, the Senate has unveiled a comprehensive framework aimed at providing effective leadership and governance for cases of mental health and substance abuse in the country.
The plans, according to a statement from the Media Office of the President of the Senate, include formulating, developing, and implementing national policies, strategies, programme, and regulations relating to mental health and substance abuse aimed at arresting the rising incidence.
The intervention also comprises a complex legislative framework for operations of law enforcement and other agencies towards reduction in the supply of illicit substances of abuse, and control of illicit psychoactive substances by passing a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill.
The Bill, when passed, will ensure that mental health is valued, promoted, and protected and that mental health conditions which often predispose vulnerable individuals to substance abuse and dependence, are treated.
The statement added that “sections of various legislations and policies that deal with Drug Control are being pulled together and harmonized into ONE drug Control Bill, with clear mandates for the various law enforcement and regulatory agencies like NDLEA, NAFDAC, Nigerian Police Force, etc, to develop framework for interagency cooperation towards Drug Control.
It will also ensure that prevention mechanisms, timely, affordable, high quality and culturally appropriate mental healthcare is made available to the public.
Besides, the Senate will also develop a coherent legislative and policy context to address both the control of drugs (Psychoactive Drugs), and Interventions for people that use drugs.
“We will also address the lack of clarity, and processes of agency roles and responsibilities and processes of inter-agency cooperation on multiple areas of overlap, towards the common objective of safeguarding the health and well being of the Nigerian Public, while we look forward to the support and active participation of all well-meaning Nigerians”, the statement stated.