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Globally, over 271 Million people use drugs – UN

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. 

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Botswana confirms new COVID-19 variant

17th May 2021
covid19

Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.

The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.

He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected

“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.

The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

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Khama lawyers dismiss BDP’s MacD

17th May 2021
former President Lt Gen Ian Khama

The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.

Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.

He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.  “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.

“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.

“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”

To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.

In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.

“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.

Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’

Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.

So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’

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Inside the multi-million Dollar Kazungula Bridge business

17th May 2021
kazungula bridge

Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.

“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.

The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.

The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent

“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”

The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.

“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.

For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

KAZUNGULA FERRY

The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.

In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.

In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.

The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.

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