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Illicit Drugs Seized, Destroyed 

By Elvis Tah

The Commission for the Fight against Illicit Sale of Drugs in the Southwest Region, has confiscated and burnt drugs worth FCFA 14 million. The Commission, headed by Southwest Governor, Louis Eyeya Zenga, seized the drugs from illegal vendors in the various towns across the Region. According to the Southwest Delegate of Health, Dr. John Chuwanga, the operation started in January.

Illicit drugs in flames

He said they did not only seize fake drugs, but also genuine ones from unauthorised vendors.
To the Delegate, health, which is the physical and mental state of a person, is very delicate.
Hear him: "One aspect of treatment is the use of drugs or medication. Interestingly, drugs are curative but at the same time, they are poisonous. If you take more than the required dosage, it kills. So if the drugs are in the hands of the wrong personnel or anybody who has little or no idea about medication of drugs, it then becomes a very serious problem."

He said the idea of burning the illicit drugs was in tandem with the annual International Day for the Fight against Illegal Sale of Drugs, which is celebrated yearly on May 28. He blamed the public for encouraging the sale of illicit drugs because they continued to buy them instead of going to the hospital for prescriptions.

"There are health institutions everywhere in the country where patients can go for their diagnosis and treatment. Government is also making efforts to provide all these health institutions with genuine drugs. They penetrate the inaccessible areas to deliver the drugs," said Dr. Chuwanga.

He debunked claims that the drugs are more expensive at the hospital than at the road side vendors. "Cameroonians are not very poor as we claim to be; we spend money on trivia things; drinks, but when it comes to spending for our health, it becomes a problem," the Delegate stated.

He said there are insurance groups now like the Mutual Health Organisation, MHO and the BEPHA schemes, where people register with just a token per member of the family each year and the insurance scheme will cover their health expenses for the year. Reacting to an assertion that illicit drug dealers are indulging in the practice due to the high rate of unemployment, he said, unemployment is not an excuse for illegal practices.

"At times, these drugs are even supplied to these illegal vendors by our pharmacists who are fully employed, so I don’t think unemployment has anything to do with the practice," Dr. Chuwanga said. He said the seizure and destruction of contraband drugs is an issue that cuts across the globe. "The international community saw that the sale of illicit drugs was becoming a serious problem and they decided during a conference in 2003, to baptise May 28 as the Day for the Fight against Illegal Sale of Drugs," he said.

For his part, the Social and Cultural Affairs Adviser at the Southwest Governor’s Office, Edwin Nkenya Ngwana, said the general idea is to eradicate illegal sale of drugs in Africa. "There are specific objectives which the government has put in place to try and curb this bad habit. The first is to sensitise the public that drugs in the wrong hands is dangerous," he stated.
Ngwana was unequivocal that the commission will continue to seize illicit drugs until the vendors desist from the practice and look for alternative means of survival. 

Though the seizure and destruction of the illicit drugs could be a commendable effort, when this reporter arrived at the Governor’s office some two hours earlier that morning before the drugs were burnt, he saw some individuals together with soldiers, scavenging the pile of drugs and carting away some of the genuine ones, leaving behind empty cartoons to be burnt.       
When we asked the Social and Cultural Affairs Adviser to comment about the drugs that had been taken away, he said he wasn’t aware of it.

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