The United Nations World Report on Drugs 2019 says more than a quarter of a billion people use drugs. In 2017, according to the report, an estimated 271 million people worldwide aged 15-64 had used drugs at least once in the previous years. This corresponds to 5.5 per cent of the global population aged 15-64, representing one in every 18 people.
The report noted that in 2009, the past-year prevalence of drug use globally was estimated to be lower, at 4.8 per cent. Between 2009 and 2017, the estimated number of past-year users of any drug globally changed from 210 million to 271 million, or by 30 per cent, in past as a result of global population growth. Data show a higher prevalence over time of the use of opioids in Africa, Europe and North America, and in the use of cannabis in North America, South America and Asia. It should be noted, however, that any comparison of estimates over time should be taken with caution, given the wide uncertainty intervals of the estimates.
Over the last decade, the report says, there has been a diversification of the substances available on the drug markets. In addition to traditional plant-based substances- cannabis, cocaine and heroin- the last decade has witnessed the expansion of a dynamic market for synthetic drugs and the non-medical use of prescription medicines. More potent drugs are available and the increasing number of substances, and their potential combinations, poses a greater risk.
The report stressed that in recent years, hundreds of NPS have been synthesized. The majority are stimulants, followed by cannabinoids and an increasing number of opioids, with unpredictable and sometimes severe negative consequences, including death. The non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids is of increasing concern. In North America, the use of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl resulted in the continued dramatic increase in opioid over-dose deaths in 2017.
In other sub regions, such as West and Central Africa and North Africa, based on seizures, the market for the non-medical use of tramadol has grown considerably. The first, large scale national drug use survey conducted in Nigeria, in 2017, found a high prevalence of the non-medical use of prescription opioids, mainly tramadol, which was second only to the use of cannabis, with a past-year prevalence of 4.7 per cent.
Further, the report indicated that among the estimated 27 million past-year users of any drug, some 35 million, or almost 13 per cent, are estimated to suffer from drug disorders, meaning that their drug use if harmful to the point where they may experience drug dependence or require treatment. This corresponds to a prevalence of drug use disorders of 0.71 per cent globally among the population aged between 15 and 64.
Between 2009 and 2016, the report noted that the prevalence of drug use disorders remained essentially stable globally, with the number of people suffering from drug use disorders changing over that period in line with population growth. However, in 2017, the prevalence of drug use disorders was higher than previously estimated, corresponding to a change in the estimated number of people suffering from drug use disorders from 30.5 million to 35.0 million. This higher prevalence is the result of the findings of drug use surveys conducted recently in two highly populated countries, Nigeria and India. Given the wide uncertainty intervals of the estimates, comparisons over time should be taken with caution.
Worldwide, there were estimated 188 million past-year users of cannabis in 2017, corresponding to 3.8 per cent of the global population aged 15 and 64. The annual prevalence of the use of cannabis is highest in North America at 14 per cent, Oceania 11 per cent, West and Central Africa at 10 per cent. In 2010, cannabis use, particularly among young people, was reported as stabilizing or declining in countries with established cannabis markets, such as in Western and Central Europe, North America and parts of Oceania, but that trend was offset by increasing consumption in many countries in Africa and Asia. While cannabis use in Europe is still reported as stabilizing, it has increased considerably in the Americas, Africa and Asia.
It was reported that opioids are a major concern in many countries because of the severe health consequences associated with their use. For example, in 2017, the use of opioids accounted for 110 thousand of the 167 thousand deaths attributed to drug use disorders. The opioid crisis continues in North America, reaching new highs in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States of America and Canada, with the increases largely attributed to the use of fentanyl and its analogues.
There were estimated 53.4 million past-year users of opioids globally in 2017. This corresponds to 1.1 per cent of the global population aged 15-64. The number of past-year users of opioids globally is 56 per cent higher than the previously estimated 34 million in 2016. The change is the result of an improvement in the understanding of the extent of drug use based on recent surveys conducted in Nigeria and India. The sub regions with the highest past-year prevalence of use of opioids were North America at 4 per cent, Oceania 3.3 per cent, the Near and Middle East and South West Asia at 2.3 per cent as well as South Asia at 1.8 per cent.
While global estimates are not available, the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids is reported in many countries, for example, in West and North Africa and in the Near and Middle East, and in North America. There are also signs of increasing non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids in Western and Central Europe, reflected in the increasing proportion of admissions to treatment for the use of those substances. The results of the first large-scale nationwide drug use survey conducted in Nigeria in 2017, the most populated country in Africa, highlighted a considerable level of past-year non-medical use of prescription opioids with an annual prevalence of 6 per cent among men and 3.3 per cent among women.
Among users of opioids, 29.2 million were past-year users of opiates, that is heroin and opium in 2017, corresponding to 0.6 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64; the number of past-year users of opiates globally is 50 per cent higher than the previously estimated 19.4 million in 2016. According to the report, use of amphetamine, especially methamphetamine, is increasing in parts of Asia and North America. In 2017, there were an estimated 28.9 million past-year users of amphetamines, corresponding to 0.6 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64, 15 per cent lower than the previously estimated 34.2 million in 2016. The highest prevalence among the population aged between 15 and 64 was in North America at 2.1 per cent and Oceania at 1.3 per cent.
Globally, an estimated 18 million people were past-year users of cocaine in 2017, corresponding to 0.4 per cent of the global population aged between 15 and 64, according to the report. Past-year use of cocaine is high in Oceania, North America, Western and Central Europe and South America. In 2010, stable trends were reported in the use of cocaine in Central America, South America and Europe, while decreasing use of cocaine was reported in North America. More recently, in Western and Central Europe, waste water analysis and survey results in some countries suggest an increase in cocaine consumption in the sub region.
In North America, following a decline in cocaine use between 2006 and 2012, there are signs of an increase; there have also been reported increases in cocaine use in some countries in South America. In addition, the use of cocaine base paste, previously confined to cocaine-manufacturing countries, has spread to countries further south in the sub region. In parts of Asia and West Africa, increasing amounts of cocaine have reportedly been seized, which indicates that cocaine use could potentially increase, especially among the affluent, urban segments of the population, in sub regions where such use had previously been low.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.