The use of illicit drugs and the abuse of it has been a major issue in Papua New Guinea. With many factors contributing to the lack of surveillance of illegal drugs entering the country, and its distribution and use nationwide it has become a concern for everyone.
Recently a four-day workshop was held to share experiences and develop a national network on the prevention of drug and illicit substance abuse.
The workshop hosted representatives from the Law & Justice sector, civil societies, faith-based organisations and other departments, and organised by the Department of Justice & Attorney General (DJAG) through the National Narcotics Bureau.
Addressing participants at the workshop, DJAG Secretary, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, said drug abuse is a huge problem throughout communities in our country.
“It is a very big problem and we the leaders of today cannot turn a blind eye to this issue. We need to take drastic steps in dealing with it now, or we will regret later when it becomes worse.”
Kalinoe also spoke of his village in East Sepik Province as an example, where drug use among youth was a problem, saying it is the same in other parts of the country.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to it, we have been given the legislative mandate by the National Narcotics Control Bureau Act of 1992 to be the organisation to actually lead the fight, to stand up to this challenge and to stop this scourge that’s eating into our societies,” he said.
Some of the functions of the bureau under the Act are to initiate and implement policies on drug abuse;s plan the overall strategy to ensure the necessary co-operation of the relevant Departments and non-government organisations in all aspects of drug abuse,and after consultation with the head of the Department responsible for health matters to license and inspect, either directly or through the Bureau; those centres or institutions whose primary purpose is to provide facilities for the medical treatment, care or rehabilitation of drug addicts.
The workshop intends to connect the Ministerial Statement presented in Parliament on ‘Illegal home brewing and Consumption of Home Brew and the Widespread Consumption of Marijuana by Youths’, early this year.
At the workshop Dr Kalinoe also encouraged staff of the Bureau to have positive mindsets, a new attitude and focus now on being result driven.
He made these comments after NNB went defunct a few years ago, because of what Kalinoe describes as, a “classic case of failure in government systems”.
“But what had happened has happened, we are now going to look into the future in getting this office back on track,” he said.
The National Narcotics Bureau which was previously under the Police is now a branch within the Department of Justice & Attorney General, and plans to perform and deliver on its mandate.