NEWS | HEALTHY
By Macdonald Ziba
“As a country, we could have protected the youth from alcohol, drug and substance abuse by now if we were doing enough having in hand laws and interventions against the malpractice, but we are still far behind!”
National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dingiswayo Jere made the remarks on Saturday during an awareness campaign against alcohol, drug and substance abuse held at Don Bosco Youth Centre in Lilongwe city.
Jere said: “It is disappointing that out of 75% of people in the country’s mental hospitals caused by alcohol, drug and substance abuse, 50% are the youth under the age of 30.
We want to reach out to as many youths as we can and implement ‘Safe Haven,’ a program aimed at creating a safe environment for young people mainly under the age of 35.
He added NYCOM is primarily mobilising youth groups, the human rights commission, traditional leaders the police and teacher to take a further caution in fighting the vice.
“We want the youths and other stakeholders to thoroughly understand consequences of the malpractice and take head on in implementing the program.
“We have already reached out to about 22 traditional leaders and numerous youth groups in Chilinde and area 23. We need them to come out with an action plan on how they can address the challenge” he explained.
Speaking in an interview, Member of Parliament (MP) for Lilongwe City South East, Ulemi Msungama observed that time was ripe for the country’s parliament to make legislation for the protection of the youths as the House has more youthful representation than before.
He said: “Having gone through similar challenges, it will be easier for us to speak for ourselves in parliament and address our issues such as alcohol, drug and substance abuse which is really hitting hard on many young people.
He continued saying keeping the young people busy is a big step into protecting them from the immoral behaviours.
“We really need to provide the youths with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES) and involve them in various developmental activities. In that way, there will be minimal time for them to engage themselves in immoral behaviours,” he explained.
A form 3 student from Mlodza Secondary School, Rejoice Kaira said the campaign was an eye opener for her because she learnt on the timing on how to report on abuse of girl’s rights.
“Young girls like me are vulnerable to abusive cases but when it happens to us, most of us are not confident enough to report the issues to the authorities most of times because we’re afraid of embarrassment, but today I have learnt that there is no shame and proper timing on reporting the crimes, we just have to report,” she said.