Tshwane intensifies fight against drug abuse
RAPULA MOATSHE email@example.com
African News Agency
THE CITY of Tshwane’s anti-drug abuse campaign has been bolstered by the introduction of at least 100 community patrollers, also known as drug and substance abuse marshals, who will wage a fight against the use of drugs in their respective areas. The cohort of patrollers recently underwent training under the tutelage of the University of Pretoria (UP) on handling cases related to drug and substance abuse. In recent years, the university has been working with the municipality on the initiative, called the Community-Orientated Substance Abuse Programme. Started in 2016, the programme sought to engage with people who use drugs in different communities before their habit could become a serious problem. Many nyaope addicts were enrolled in the programme and underwent medical treatment to assist them to reduce and stop their addiction. Some drug hotspots targeted included Marabastad and the inner city, especially Brown Street, where some addicts shared syringes to openly inject themselves with each other’s drug-contaminated blood. Tshwane member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for health, Rina Marx, said the training for 100 community patrollers focused on Akasia in region 1 because “the area is negatively impacted by drug and substance abuse, notably among the youth”. Participants received training in basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, situational awareness, crime scene management, self-defence and firefighting. “Trainees were also addressed about the importance of HIV/Aids awareness and prevention,” Marx said. She said the marshals also received training on different types of drugs and their effects, intervention measures, harm reduction measures and ways to reduce the stigma attached to drug use. “The training was premised on empowering attendees to not only understand drugs and the environment surrounding drug use, but also to equip trainees to make a contribution towards demand reduction in the future,” she said. Marx expressed support for the training because many trainees had not previously received training provided by a tertiary institution. “I requested UP to assist because the main aim of the programme is to provide community-based support for people who use drugs, their families and communities affected by harmful substance use.” She said that the programme also developed and improved training for service providers, who are at the frontline of a fight aimed at reducing harmful drug use. The marshals, she said, have additional skills that they can take back to their communities. “It is through integrated initiatives such as these that we aim to impact our communities in a positive way and to demonstrate that Tshwane is a caring and responsive city,” Marx said.