The University of Pretoria (UP) has become an essential partner of the City of Tshwane in the fight against drug abuse.
Executive Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga said measures to address drug abuse have resulted in the city engaging with the university as a partner in the fight against substance abuse.
“The UP conceptualised the community-oriented primary care (COPC) project, which spans two years.
“The agreement between the city and the UP was finalised in June 2016 and funds were made available in August 2016,” said Msimanga.
Meanwhile, the city is boosting the successes of the anti-drug unit, which came to life with the new Tshwane administration last August.
MMC for community safety Alderman Derrick Kissoonduth said this unit has arrested 87 people in connection with drug related charges since December 2016.
“In South Africa, levels of substance abuse continue to rise and the age of first time experimentation with drugs has dropped 10 years,” Kissooduth said.
Msimanga said the approach to dealing with substance abuse has shifted from sending users either to jail or to rehabilitation centres where withdrawal and total abstinence are the sole aim.
It has now moved to a human rights, harm reduction and health care approach where early detection, hard reduction and care in the community through relationship building, support and re-integration into the society are the main focus.
“The COPC, brief interventions, opioid substance therapy (OST) and a needle exchange
programme are central to this
“The department of health and social development are engaged in the development and monitoring of the project.
“A medical doctor, registered nurse, clinical associates and social workers have been trained and they have already started the screening of substance users at homes and have initiated treatment at several sites,” Msimanga said.
He said the project plan initially stated that the medicine for the OST would be provided by the provincial department of health, but the OST has not started yet.