Thursday, 18 February 2016

NDLEA Threatens to Arrest Sicklers Over Drug Abuse

The Anambra state command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has issued a stern warning to victims of Sickle Cell disorder who use control drugs without Doctor's prescriptions. 
In a meeting with Stake Holders of the health sector of the State, the commander of the Agency, Mr. Sule Momodu cautioned victims of Sickle Cell disorder to steer clear of control drugs unless with a Doctor's prescription. He further directed pharmacists to check for Doctor's prescriptions before issuing control drugs to any patient, as anyone caught issuing such drugs shall be prosecuted.

This warning came on the heels of the plea made by Aisha Edward, the Coordinator of Association of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder [APLSCD], she had earlier reached out to the NDLEA and the Anambra chapter Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria to aid in combating the addiction that was already ripping off her members,.Courtesy of the popular controlled drugs that are used in managing and suppressing their excruciating bone pain crisis.
According to her, most of her members are already dependent on these control drugs and would have them with or without the occurrence of crisis, this have prompted her call for help to relevant authorities to see ways the drug abuse could be curbed, as she couldn't withstand the sight of her members suffering addiction, that was initiated by outrageous hospital bills.
Speaking on the burning issue, the chairman Awka chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association Dr. Chukwudi NJelita posited that since the sickle cell victims already have an association under the umbrella of APLSCD, it would be advised that they get a doctor from each Local Government in the state to be handling the crisis Of patients from the particular local Government, adding that having a doctor managing the sufferers in each Local Government would reduce the occurrence of crisis and such Doctor should be the one to issue drug prescriptions for the patients.
He further stated that the patients should have the number of the Doctor handling them on their APLSCD membership cards, this would enable the pharmacists reach out to the Doctor to confirm prescriptions before issuing the control drugs to the patients. In a bid to ease the protocols and processes, Dr. Njelita Opted to exchange directories with Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria so that the pharmacists would have the contacts of all Medical Doctors in the state, and the Doctors would also have the contacts of all Pharmacists in the state. This was a welcomed idea for  Pharm. Chisom Uchem, the Chairman Anambra State Chapter of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria [PSN], she further stated that her organization would continue their best to curtail drug abuse in the state and would always lend a supporting hand to APLSCD, reiterating that PSN would always be at their beck and call.
Aisha Edward lamented over the neglect and stigmatization meted out on her and her members because of their disorder, which she said was not of their own making unlike other diseases such as HIV & AIDS. She appealed that the health associations in the state should add their voice to the cry of the association to plead with the government to consider placing them on the health emergency priority list and come to their aid.
According to her, it is quite appalling that heart to heart centres for HIV patients are across the state, but not even one clinic for sickle cell patients is found in all the general teaching hospitals in ANAMBRA state, yet we have a law to passed in our honour, this was the height of stigmatization on her members who now resort to self denial, depressions, self pity and addiction as a way out.
Speaking to press after the meeting with the stakeholders of the health sector, Aisha said that stopping the use of drugs was one problem and another was the rehabilitation of the addicts. She urged the NDLEA to create rehabilitation centres for her members, as that would aid the war against drug abuse, because it would be a futile fight if the use of these drugs is stopped without rehabilitation for the addicts, this would lead to a disastrous withdrawal syndrome, and unleashing violence to the family members and the society at large is also very certain.She thanked the NDLEA for coming to their aid, and urged them to also join in the advocacy and sensitisation programmes of the association. She also beckoned on well meaning Nigerians, health agencies and churches to join in this radical sensitisation of the disorder to avert the growing rates of its occurrence.
While extending her gratitude to the state Governor His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano, his Wife Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano and the commissioner of health Dr. Josphat Akabuike for their support to the association, Aisha beckoned on them to do more in the areas of welfare and mobilization for sensitisation, and also to facilitate the approval and implementation of the initial appeal to have sickle cell centres in all government teaching hospitals and health centres across the State, this would enable the sufferers access medical care at these government health centres at a subsidized rate, than paying exorbitantly at private hospitals.
In her conclusion, Aisha called out on all sickle cell victims that are yet to register with the association to do so in their own interest, as the association can not stand in for anyone they do not recognize as a member. She said that being a member avails one to numerous benefits. She also urged her members to steer clear of control or addictive drugs of any sort. The meeting which lasted for about three hours at the state headquarters of NDLEA had in attendance the State commander of the Agency, Mr. Sule Momodu, Chairman and Treasurer of the Anambra chapter of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharms. Chisom Uchem and Ngozi Onyeogulu, Chairman Awka Chapter Nigeria Medical Association Dr. Chukwudi Njelita and other stakeholders of the health sector.



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