MTN launches campaign against substance abuse, learns a lot
‘Substance abuse is slowly destroying the next generation’. It is with that grim realisation that the MTN Foundation, along with various organisations and associations launched the Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) on Wednesday, December 19, at the George Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.
L-R: Pharm. Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum; Dennis Okoro, Director, MTN Foundation; Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, Chairman of the MTN Foundation; Pharm. Samuel Adekola, National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria and Dr, Yewande Oshodi, Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist, President, Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions in Nigeria (ACAPAN) at the launch of the MTN Foundation multi-stakeholder Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) on December 19th, 2018 in Lagos.
ASAP is a multi-stakeholder initiative that will deliver interventions and fieldwork campaigns that reduce the rate of first-time users of addictive substances within the 10 to 25-year age range.
The event was opened by the Chairman of the MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, who commented on the significance of the ASAP initiative to Nigeria’s ecosystem due to the constant rise in the prevalence of substance abuse among Nigerian youths.
Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, Chairman, MTN Foundation, speaking at the launch
The Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma, shared the necessity of the initiative – to save the young ones, the future. (The former Director General, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Mr. Otunba Ipinmisho, stated in a 2016 interview, that 40% of Nigerian youths are on drug abuse!)
Nonny Ugboma, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, speaking at the launch
Then we heard from various stakeholders (Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Association of Community Pharmacists, Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria, etc) who gathered to witness the launch and we were able to glean a wealth of knowledge from them.
Sabo Ibrahim, Commissioner of Police, speaking at the launch
Pharm. Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum, MAW, speaking at the launch
Adeshola Bello, Coordinating Manager, Freedom Foundation, speaking at the launch
We had to sit up when the room was darkened in order for a former addict to tell her story. By the time she was 15 she had become a ‘professional’ in substances and had begun dating men in their forties. She became a shadow of herself and at one point she contemplated suicide. It dawned on us all, the reality.
Afterwards, we heard riveting experiences from the stakeholders. And we sobered even more.
Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, shared how a parent called her at 3:00am to inform her that he was rushing to her with his child in the car – the man’s son had overdosed on a substance and was delirious.
Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, MD, Pinnacle Medical Services, speaking at the launch
Beyond substance abuse, Dr. Atinuke Onayiga, Public Health Consultant (Rep. C.A.N.), shared that strong parental influence stopped her from using substances when she encountered them. And this was an important factor that parents have to bear in mind.
Dr. Atinuke Onayiga, Public Health Consultant (Rep. C.A.N.) speaking at the launch
When we heard that a 2017 study showed that at least 3 million bottles of codeine were sold daily, in only two states in Nigeria – we gaped. That is the reality.
ASAP’s initial phase is expected to have a 6-month duration, for numerous activities in various regions around the country and we are humbled by what the initiative has set out to achieve.
We all need to act now.