The media has been challenged to be sensitive in covering cases involving drug and substance abuse to minimise stigma against addicts.

Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network director, Wilson Box, said there was need for a holistic approach to minimise drug and substance abuse.

Speaking during journalists’ capacity building workshop on harm reduction and accurate reporting on drug use in Harare on Wednesday, Box said there was need for drug policy reform and  harm reduction prevention.

“Media is a vital cog in the fight against drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe. Let’s not stigmatise those that use drugs and substances,” Box said.

“Those that use and inject must not be stripped of their freedoms and rights.

“It’s a health crisis and journalists must not criminalise drug use in Zimbabwe through their stories. Journalists must be well informed on drug policy reform and harm reduction prevention.”

Statistics compiled in 2021 by the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network revealed that 60% of psychiatric admissions were due to drug abuse.Eighty percent of these were people aged 16 to 25, including schoolgirls.

Government in 2020  launched the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan which aims to provide both a comprehensive and integrated approach to address the rise in substance use in the country.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said his administration will put to an end drug and substance abuse through deterrent jail sentences.

He  said drug abuse, particularly among the youths, had become a national scourge, which needs to be stemmed. — NewsDay

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