By John Okeke
The European Union (EU) , through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) , has scaled up its ongoing support to ensure access to treatment services by drug users in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, with the donation of personal protective equipment and other supplies to 25 drug treatment centres in Nigeria.
Representatives of EU and UNODC yesterday delivered the equipment and supplies , to YouthRise, a non-governmental organization providing community-based treatment services to female drug users in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The donation is to support COVID-19 prevention among drug users in Nigeria.
This includes disposable facemasks, disposable gloves, hand sanitizers, handwash liquid, and infrared thermometers.
Also included are information, education and communication (IEC) materials in English, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Pidgin English, that provide information on protective measures against the virus and contact details of DrugHelpNet, the network of drug treatment service providers offering tele-health services to drug users.
The 25 treatment centres receiving the supplies have been part of EU’s Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria Project and include the 11 model federal drug treatment and training centres, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing community-based treatment services, and public and private treatment centres that are part of the DrugHelpNet.
During the handover Kurt Cornelis, Head of Cooperation from the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS said “In line with other COVID-19 related support to Nigeria, the EU, through its implementing partner UNODC has adopted frontline and specialist interventions that can respond to the needs of those with substance use disorders who may experience limited access to health and elevated health risks.
He further mentioned that “Ensuring service continuity for drug users and safety for service providers remains a big priority under our EU-Nigeria cooperation on drugs and related organized crime.”
Oliver Stolpe, Representative of the UNODC in Nigeria, while thanking the EU for their support, mentioned the importance of energizing the civil society and health networks supported by UNODC in responding to the COVID-19 in Nigeria.
He emphasized that UNODC is committed to “leaving no one behind” and that the UNODC is working on a range on interventions and partnerships to reach the most vulnerable populations.
Receiving the supplies, the Executive Director of YouthRISE, Ifeanyi Okechukwu expressed appreciation for the timely donation of personal protective equipment, IEC materials and provision of DrugHelpNet service in line with COVID-19 Emergency response from EU through UNODC Nigeria. She noted that “This will help raise awareness, improve counselling and support services as well as curb the spread of corona virus in our communities and among our frontline workers during the lockdown.”