Nigeria Leads Fight Against Tramadol Crisis in Africa


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter.

Map of Africa showing Nigeria

Map of Africa showing Nigeria 


FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2024. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) has released its 2024 drug report, revealing a startling statistic: 90% of tramadol seized globally in the past five years occurred in Africa. This alarming figure underscores the continent's role as a major transit point for illicit drugs and highlights the urgent need for increased prevention efforts and healthcare investment, particularly in Nigeria.


UNODC Country Representative Oliver Stolpe, speaking at the 2024 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking event in Abuja, emphasized the importance of focusing on prevention, especially among youth and women. The event, themed "The Evidence is Clear: Invest in Prevention," was organized by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in collaboration with the UNODC and the MTN Foundation.


Stolpe stressed the need for comprehensive drug education programs, stating, "The programme should be for all government and private secondary schools and out-of-school children. We need to sensitise people on the ability to recognise drug use sufferers and help them."


The UNODC report  revealed that 292 million people, or 5.6% of the world's population aged 15-64, used drugs in the past year—a 20% increase over the past decade. While cannabis remains the primary drug used and trafficked in Africa, the continent continues to serve as a transit area for drugs such as cocaine and heroin.


NDLEA Chairman Brig.Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd.) highlighted the agency's commitment to prevention, citing its cost-effectiveness compared to dealing with the consequences of drug use disorders. Marwa reported significant progress in the fight against drug trafficking:


"We have arrested 52,901 drug traffickers including 48 barons in three and half years. Over 9,000 suspects have been convicted in court and we have seized 7.6 million kilograms of assorted illicit substances."


The private sector is also playing a crucial role in combating drug abuse. Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, Chairman of the MTN Foundation revealed that the organization has invested N30 billion in various programs and projects over the past 20 years. The foundation's Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) focuses on youth engagement and education:


"We did our research and found out that as long as the younger generation does not have something to do, something to love, and something to hope for, they will be subject to negative distraction," Adelusi-Adeluyi explained.


Clearly, a multi-faceted approach involving government agencies, international organizations and private sector partners is essential. By investing in prevention, education and healthcare, Nigeria and other African nations can work towards reducing drug abuse and its devastating consequences on society.


Source: The Guardian Newspaper.


Related: Top five abused substances by Nigerian youths 


Published: June 27, 2024

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