Challenge of Drug Addiction Focus of Ghana’s Annual National Catholic Health Conference


By ACI Africa Editorial

The harmful use of alcohol and drugs and the impact this seems to be having on individuals, families, and various groups in Ghana was the focus of the recent 17th annual conference of the National Catholic Health Service (NCHS) held last week under the theme, “Addictions as an Emerging Healthcare Challenge.”

“Addiction is a problem without bounds or limited to a particular class of people or age group or race or sex or nationality or status or profession and is a dependence problem,” the chairman of the Commission for health of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Emmanuel Kofi Fianu told participants in the three-day conference held in Ghana’s Sekondi-Takoradi diocese.

“Church teaches that the dignity of human life entails the demand that man should treat with respect not only his own body, but also the bodies of every other person, especially the suffering,” Bishop Fianu who is the Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Ho diocese said, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

He added, “One cannot speak of freedom or right to take drugs because a human being does not have the right to harm himself/herself and cannot abdicate his/her personal dignity which is given to him/her by God at creation.”

Addressing the conference participants, among them directors, managers and staff of NCHS, the Ghanaian Prelate frowned at “those who produce and peddle substance that are abused and make others dependent on them leading to addictions,” and described them “as lacking respect for the rights of others to live in dignity in Christ.”

Bishop Fianu, a member of Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) went on to blame the corporate world and social media who sometimes promote illicit substances, creating avenues to have their targets and called on the relevant government agencies to play their watchdog role.

As a solution, he proposed putting in place effective systems, supervision and accountability as a means of addressing addictions occasioned by substance abuse and invited relevant stakeholders to word toward developing guidelines to address the challenge of drug addiction.

He appealed to heads of Churches, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the government to consider opening more rehabilitation centres for addicts and ensure individuals and communities have access to them.

On his part, the Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), Peter Yeboah called for a comprehensive response in areas of service delivery, human resources, financing and partnership development in tackling the challenge of addiction.

At the conference that concluded on October 10, the Deputy Western Regional Minister, Gifty Kusi commended the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) of Ghana for its efforts in raising awareness about the consequences of addictions.

According to the world drug report of 2018, it is estimated that about 275 million people worldwide, which is about 5.6% of the world’s population aged between 15- 64 use drugs.