Majority of the young people in both private and public schools in Malawi are not fully aware of the dangers of drug use and many see drugs as a solution to their problems, a narrative report by Drug Fight Malawi says.
The organization has since highlighted the need for increased efforts to educate and raise awareness among young people about the risks and consequences of drug abuse.
Drug Fight Malawi is implementing an outreach campaign on drug use prevention in schools and identified drug abuse hotspots in selected districts in Malawi.
The report observes that children grow up in a much complex and difficult world today and that because of their trait of curiosity, they tend to explore anything that seems to be new and attractive to them.
“As a result, innocent children fall into certain habits and impulses those are not congenial to their health in general. Particularly, children are quite vulnerable to drug use in both towns, cities and as well as in rural areas,” reads part of the report.
It adds that there are various reasons behind their attraction to drugs, citing what they learn on the streets, at school, on the internet and television.
“Some of it is true, some not. Many children and young people today are using drugs which pose a danger not only to their future but also trouble making in both their households and communities,” it says.
Drug Fight Malawi has since recommended that teachers should be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to address drug-related issues, observing that teachers would play a critical role in preventing drug use among students.
The organization also recommends that teachers should have their own drug use prevention training sessions, to enable them to better educate their students on the dangers of drug abuse, in the absence of project staff.
“Our experience also showed that separate programs need to be organized specifically targeting children in drug use hotspots, such as Area 47 and other areas in Lilongwe, Ndirande and other areas in Blantyre, some townships in Mzuzu, Zomba, and even in lakeshore areas. These programs should be tailored to the unique needs of these communities and should involve local leaders, Religious and political leaders and stakeholders to ensure patronage and success,” says the organization.
Among challenges the organization faced in the implementation of the project are uncooperativeness from owners of private schools to arrange for campaign sessions perhaps because the Ministry of Education endorsement letter is only for public schools.
Another challenge faced by the project was limited finances, which made it difficult for the project team to reach out to schools outside the City of Lilongwe. This is an understandable issue, as it can be costly to travel to other districts, especially if the team needs to cover long distances since the project is implemented without donor support.
However, Drug Fight Malawi said there were a number of opportunities the project could take advantage of. For example, the project has dedicated and well-trained staff on the truth about drugs after undergoing several courses of that nature to deliver the program.
“Collaborating with other local and international organizations, including government agencies, NGOs, and community-based organizations, would also increase the reach and impact of the drug abuse prevention program,” says the report.