The new government has come to power with the promise of 'closing the doors' on entry routes of drugs into the country. About one year back National Narcotics Control Bureau (NNCB) launched a 'Wake Up' campaign to raise awareness on drug abuse prevention. Now the question is who will reach out to the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 drug addicts already on the streets and treat them?
The obvious answer is NNCB. But look at the numbers. The Bureau has capacity to treat a maximum of 400 addicts per year. This is just about 3% of the addict population. What happens to the remaining 97% ? Further, some of the 3% would relapse, thereby reducing the number further. In short probably the number of people cured would be less than the number of new youngsters getting addicted. Thus the numbers would in fact be increasing rather than decreasing. This is borne out by the everyday experience of ordinary people.
What's the solution? Train more counselors? Expand the capacity of NNCB? These are all tried solutions –and not with very impressive results. In fact with a very high attrition rate, the number of NNCB counselors is steadily dwindling. Can you believe your ears when you hear that the Drug Rehabilitation Center in Himmafushi has only 5 trained counselors? Frankly speaking, the pay and perks of a counselor are grossly inadequate for the hazardous work they do daily. Thus, even if training courses are made available not many would apply.
So it is obvious some innovative thinking is required. More resources need to be mobilized –particularly human resources. We can think of volunteers –teachers, nurses, health workers, religious scholars. NGOs can take the lead in organizing the volunteers with support from the government. Only a supreme national effort can save the nation from going under a tsunami of drug addiction.