GIS – 15 September 2017: The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, is setting up, on a pilot basis, health desks in five Women Empowerment Centres for the provision of community resource information, counselling services and referrals to people who use drugs and to their relatives. The concerned centres are Abercrombie, Bambous, Flacq, Rose-Hill and Surinam.
The Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, made this announcement yesterday at the National Women Development Centre in Phoenix, at the opening of a Training of trainers workshop on the ‘Prevention of the use of synthetic drugs among the youth’. The Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, and other personalities were also present at the event.
“Through our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, I firmly believe that we will make a difference towards the elimination of synthetic drugs,” said the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare. Speaking on the mandate to work for women, children and families, and safeguard their well-being, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo pointed out that her Ministry has to act on two fronts in the fight against the drug scourge and its impact.
The first one is the empowerment of women to enable them to understand the symptoms of drug abuse with a view to identifying these signs among family members and cope with the situation effectively. The second area of action relates to equipping officers of the Ministry with relevant knowledge so that they can provide first-hand information to women whenever they call at the centres for assistance and guidance.
The Minister urged the participants which comprised officers of the various departments under the purview of her Ministry, to disseminate information and knowledge acquired during the workshop to their respective clientele. The gender implication of drug abuse was also outlined by Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo. She stated that experts confirmed that drug abuse among women needs to be addressed from a gender perspective, taking into consideration women’s socio-economic environment and the relationships within the family settings.
For his part, the Minister of Health and Quality of Life lauded the collaborative endeavour, which sets an example on the way institutions can cooperate effectively in bringing relevant assistance to those who are vulnerable. “The joint initiative will use the infrastructure of the Ministry of Gender Equality and the expertise of the resource person of the Harm Reduction Unit of my Ministry to facilitate the provision of additional service in the field of substance abuse without any extra cost or investment,” he said.
The Minister made a plea for such more joint projects to be put in place with a view to optimise resources. He added that he will be discussing with his colleague ministers responsible for education, social security, and youth on the necessity to develop further initiatives under a multisectoral approach.
Recalling the progress made in terms of drug seizures, thereby reducing the supply and availability of drugs in the country, Dr Husnoo underlined that the treatment, care, support and rehabilitation of drug users remain a priority. “The recent emergence of synthetic drugs indicate clearly that we cannot afford to be complacent since our youth are an easy target of the unscrupulous drug peddlers” he said.
The one-day workshop brought together officers from the Gender Unit, the Family Welfare and Protection Unit, the Child Development Unit, the National Women Council, and the National Children Council. Topics presented and discussed by representatives of the Harm Reduction Unit of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life focused on the drug situation in Mauritius, addiction and its consequences, treatment and rehabilitation, harm reduction and prevention.
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