Fight against drugs: Seychelles to set up drug observatory
The NDO will enhance the government's international drug reporting obligations and support evidence-based policy decisions on drugs. (Seychelles Nation)
Work has begun to set up a National Drug Observatory (NDO) in Seychelles that will help the health authorities collect, analyse and share information related to the supply and demand of drugs in the country.
Representatives from the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Kenya's National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), were recently in Seychelles to assist relevant authorities.
Boniface Wilunda, from the UNODC, told SNA on Friday that the NDO will enhance the government's international drug reporting obligations and support evidence-based policy decisions on drugs.
"These works build on that which was started some time back, as part of the National Drug Control masterplan," said Wilunda.
He added that the sessions will help Seychelles to collect, analyse and disseminate the relevant data to the authorities, locally as well as internationally, to help in the fight against drug abuse and trafficking.
Wilunda explained that the observatory, although being in Seychelles, will be relevant for the region as well, as the country's geographical position means that a lot of these transactions happen in and around the area.
"The NDO will allow for all stakeholders involved in drug prevention and rehabilitation to have the relevant information in one place, which will enable them to take proper action and put in place the related policies," he added.
The principal monitoring and evaluation officer at the Division for Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation (DSAPTR), Sybilla Mederick, told SNA that Seychelles does collect data with regards to drug use in the country but there is a lack of human resources.
"To properly analyse the data we collect, we need to have people dedicated to it, at the moment, we have to get our own staff to do it as additional duties, which puts a strain on them," said Mederick.
She added that at the moment no decision has been made with regard to where the observatory will be based and that will be decided by the Ministry of Health in due course.
According to DSAPTR, they have 4,267 clients on various drug treatment and rehabilitation programmes in a country that has a population of just over 100,000. From the figure, 99 have successfully completed the programme while 2771 remain active. This means they are maintaining their appointments and treatment - while the rest have defaulted and are irregular.
The division is currently spending over SCR4 million ($309,000) annually on its methadone programme alone.
UNODC and NACADA will continue to work with Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, over the coming years, as the country and the region continue their work against drug abuse and trafficking.
"Drug and alcohol continue to affect a large percentage of our population. They continue to have major health, social and economic consequences on individuals, families and communities," said the director general of the Division, Marie Josette Louis, at the opening of one of the sessions last week.
She urged focal persons from the various ministries, departments and agencies to continue to be fully engaged with the process of setting up the NDO.