ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- A senior African Union (AU) Commission official on Friday called for strengthening the strategic and multilateral partnerships to comprehensively address Africa's drug problem exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The urgent call was made by the AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Amira Elfadil, during a high-level event held virtually to launch an ambitious strategic plan that envisaged tackling the impact of drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism on the continent over the next decade by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
"To build the Africa we want, we must move beyond a catalogue of good intentions, and collectively step up responses to cope with the many challenges lurking," Elfadil said, adding that "this can only be achieved with adequate resources, and failure to do so is not an option."
According to the AU, as large quantities of drugs pass through the continent, both local consumption and also production have been rising in recent years.
This has resulted in an increase in the number of people in Africa with drug use disorders and huge unmet treatment demand which requires workforce development in handling addictions, it was noted.
The AU stressed that the continent has recently transitioned from being a mere transit route for trafficked narcotic drugs to become a major consuming region.
Amid an increase in the consumption of drugs in Africa, a growing nexus between drugs and organized crime including complex and shifting networks of insurgency, local and regional politics including corruption and terrorism is said to be increasing at an alarming rate.
The pan African bloc said that criminal syndicates have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to target the continent with production and trafficking of substandard, falsified medicines and health products.
"This has presented major challenges not only to Africa's fragile health care systems but also to the overall social, economic and security milieu," the AU said. Enditem