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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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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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