Rwanda spends Rwf100 billion every year on rehabilitating drug abusers, officials have said.
“Enormous resources are invested in activities related to prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration of delinquents,” Aimé Bosenibamwe, Director General of Rwanda National Rehabilitation Services (NRS) said.
“Delinquency is a serious problem in the Rwandan society and this requires a lot of attention.”
Bosenibamwe made the remarks while launching the National Symposium to fight against drug abuse and trafficking organized by Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) on Tuesday.
For example, Bosenibamwe said the Government is spending Rwf80 million on rehabilitation per month at Iwawa Rehabilitations Center while Rwf70 million is spent on Gitagata Rehabilitation Center.
“This is only in these two rehabilitation centers, imagine if we include districts’ rehabilitation centers,” Bosenibamwe said.
He explained that a big part of this money is spent on medical care and feeding since “a big number of these drug abusers are infected with sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS and also Tuberculosis.”
A research conducted by RBC in 2012 revealed that 52% of Rwandan youth between 14-35 years old had taken one drug at least once in a lifetime while 7% were already alcohol addicted. 5% were nicotine addicted while +2% were cannabis addicted.
“Drug abuse affect seriously every aspect of the country’s development,” Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga, Mental Health Division Manager at RBC, said urging partnership with all concerned institutions to implement national strategies to fight against drug abuse, transportation and trafficking.
“Everybody should feel concerned for a society free of drugs,” she said.
During a research carried by RBC in 2012 on drug abuse in Rwanda, a big number of Rwandans had claimed for increased fines and punishments for drug abusers and traffickers.
During the 15th National Dialogue, President Paul Kagame emphasized the issue of drug abuse among Rwandan youth, saying that “We can’t allow our youth to go the waste.” “It is a cancer attacking the whole human body,” Kagame said, and since then the issue was taken more serious.
A Ministerial Order No30/35 of 2015 of the Ministry of Health regulating illegal drinks, substances and drugs shows a list of substances considered as drugs in Rwanda, but also stipulates that this list should be updated every time a new substance is suspicious.
This ministerial order extended the list of drugs to include Chief Waragi, Suzie Waragi, locally made beer known as “Muriture”, glue, gasoline, and methanol alcoholic with 0.5.
Once Ethanol in drinks exceeds 45%, it is also considered a drug.
While drugs always appear among three top crimes including assault and defilement in Rwanda according to Rwanda National Police, they (drugs) come as a key catalyst pushing people to commit these other two top crimes.
“We need support from every parent to know that they should protect children and youth from every substance they can’t feed their own children with,” CP Theos Badege, Spokesperson of Rwanda National Police said.
While Iwawa Rehabilitation Center receives 4,000 youths every year, mostly from the streets, NRS says that more than 90% are drug addicts.
Among measures that have been taken to pull youth out from drug abuse include rehabilitating them and empowering them with vocational trainings which would help them find jobs, but still 20% of rehabilitated youth end up going back to streets.
“We have been investing much in rehabilitation, but this time we need to put more effort in prevention and bridging the gap between rehabilitation and reintegration,” Bosenibamwe said adding that there is a need for awareness campaigns targeting groups.