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FG challenges Codeine Control Group on surveillance

by Muhammad Sani
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By Asma’u Ahmad

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has challenged Codeine Control and Other Related Matters Working Group (CCRWG) on proper monitoring of drug dispensing outlets in communities to check abuse of the substance.

Adewole, who gave the advice at the inauguration of the group on Tuesday in Abuja, also challenged the group on continuous surveillance while enlightening the public on the dangers of drug abuse. He said that enlightenment would assist those addicted to the substance to realise that it was highly unhealthy for them and would stop the habit so they could live a normal life.

Prof. Isaac Adewole

The minister frowned at the rate of consumption, addiction and misuse of codeine syrup by Nigerians across different geographic and social strata in the country. He added that if drastic and adequate measures were not taken to stem the menace, it would be disastrous in the near future.

Newsmen report that members of the group are from Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), NAFDAC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Department of Food and Drug Services of Ministry of Health. Others were from development partners, WHO, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, National Orientation Agency, associations, among others.

Mr Elijah Mohammed, the Registrar of PCN, said concerns around the use and misuse of codeine, which was assuming frightening dimension in parts of the country, were well documented. Mohammed said PCN was currently working with technical groups of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria to halt and ultimately overcome the menace.

The registrar said the group was set up to assist with the communication strategy  in pharmacies to educate the populace on dangers inherent in abuse of the substance. He added that “the current situation however, requires deployment of feasible strategies to bring the issue under control and prevent future occurrences, hence the initiative to put in place Codeine Control and Other Related Matters Working Group (CCRWG).

“The purpose of the group is to assist with communication strategy in the Pharmacies, Patent and Proprietary Medicines Vendors shops (PPMV) to help inform the society on dangers associated with abuse of codeine containing preparedness and other related drugs. “The strategy will also involve the design of Pharmacy screening, monitoring and surveillance and how those addicted can get assistance and be rehabilitated.”

Prof. Oluwatoyin Odeku, the Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan and Chairman of the CCRWG, said rural communities contained the highest burden of addicts. Odeku assured the commitment of the group to sensitise communities, students and pupils at the grassroots on the harmful effects of codeine consumption.

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