In his address, the MEC for Agriculture, Rural and Social Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, said that this issue needs a concerted effort by all stakeholders and shouldn’€™t be blamed on government.

He said that the Gauteng government has intensified its efforts by implementing a provincial substance-abuse strategy guided by the National Drug Master Plan to strengthen the existing programme. He added that there are 27 local drug action committees and five regional drug action committees in the province.

‘€œBetween January 2012 and February 2013, 83 people in Mamelodi (the Tshwane district most affected by substance abuse) who were taking heroine, nyaope and dagga received treatment at an out-patient centre in the area,’€ said the Mayathula-Khoza.

One of the delegates at the summit voiced his concern about the low levels of support rehabilitation centres receive from government and said that most people preferred private rehabilitation centres, even though they are expensive. He recommended that the department strengthen the partnerships with non-governmental organisations (NGO’s).

In a presentation Professor Rataemane from the University of Limpopo said that the implementation of substance-abuse programmes are vital and also urged government to strengthen relations with the NGO’s, as they are the fieldworkers. He stressed that every level of society is affected by substance abuse and that the country has a 40 percent relapse rate.

Professor Shabir Banoo from the Medicine Control Council (MCC) said that the community needed to be re-educated about the substances and the dangers of using it.

Professor Rataemane said the media must also play their role by reporting the facts responsibly as a lot of misinformation about drugs appears in the media.

Mishack Mahlangu is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from the Tshwane health district in Gauteng.