The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission organized a validation workshop for the 2022 West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) Report on the theme “Statistics and Trends on Illicit Drug Supply and Drug Abuse”.
The Workshop which was organized by the Department of Human Development and Social Affairs in Abuja, Nigeria on May 3 and 4, 2023, had in attendance Mental Healthcare Experts (National Focal Points) from Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) is an ECOWAS project aimed at improving the information base for policymakers from ECOWAS Member States to address the social, health, and economic consequences of alcohol and drug use through the establishment of local sentinel surveillance networks in all the ECOWAS Member States. In addition to collecting data in each site on selected aspects of drug demand and supply, the National Focal Points (NFPs) of WENDU contribute to identifying changes in drug use patterns and emerging trends. They communicate the reports generated to the agencies and organizations in charge of addressing substance abuse problems or that directly benefit from acquiring information about drug use. The Network is also used to assess the regional and national responses/interventions on drug prevention and control support in the Region as well as generate strategic information for policy decision-making and programme implementation.
The workshop afforded participants the opportunity to present WENDU data from their respective countries. The data revealed an increase in drug use amongst unemployed young people aged 15-25, compared to the 2021 statistics and identified the most consumed drugs in the region as cannabis, tramadol, amphetamines and cocaine. The data presented was validated and approved by the mental healthcare professionals for programme and policy, with participants agreeing on the urgent need to take significant actions to reduce drug use in the region.
The Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Dr. Sintiki T. Ugbe called on Member States to “continue to partner and cooperate with the Drugs Division of the Humanitarian and Social Affairs Directorate to ensure maximum benefits from the drug prevention and control programmes of the ECOWAS Commission”.
In keeping with innovation and global trends, the Information Technology Services (ITS) Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission presented to participants the newly designed digitalised WENDU data collection form to be launched later in the year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).