Tanzania is taking a groundbreaking approach in its fight against cannabis by seeking a special biological agent that can eradicate the notorious drug from its roots.
The Commissioner General of Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA), Mr Aretas Lyimo, announced this initiative, acknowledging that other countries have explored similar strategies but have faced concerns about potential environmental hazards.
The objective is to develop a biological agent that exclusively targets cannabis weeds without harming other vegetation or the soil. Mr Lyimo emphasized the importance of finding a safe and effective solution to combat the illicit drug problem in Tanzania.
The urgency to tackle drug abuse in the country was highlighted by Dr. Redempta Mbatia, Director of the Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS), who stated that drug abuse has contributed significantly to new HIV infections.
The THPS has been actively working to support drug users in their recovery process, which includes the prescription of HIV drugs.
In addition, the THPS has carried out HIV counseling and testing for 1,121 clients, with 54 individuals being diagnosed with HIV and subsequently enrolled in care and treatment services. The organization has also administered Covid-19 vaccines to 887 clients.
Through the support of organizations such as the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Global Fund, the THPS has provided HIV testing to 1,296 people who inject drugs (PWID).
Moreover, they have conducted social behavior change communication sessions for 1,541 PWID, with 20 individuals being referred to the Mount Meru MAT clinic for further assistance.
Former drug abuser Erick Bernard shared his experiences, revealing that drug addiction had driven many individuals to engage in serious crimes like theft and robbery.
The fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking is being commemorated on the occasion of the 2023 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, with the theme “People First: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention.” The national-level observance is taking place in Arusha, Tanzania.