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             Govt, media, NGOs should unite to protect youth from drug abuse’


Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the media should play a greater role in creating a drug-free society, speakers at a seminar on “The Role of the Youth and Stakeholders’ Responsibilities in the Prevention of Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS” said on Saturday. 


The seminar was organised by an NGO, Revival of Heritage (ROH), and was attended by a large number of people. It was held at the Alhamra Arts Council on The Mall, on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. 


At the seminar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Muhammad Ayub highlighted the role of the government in the prevention of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. Provincial Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports Dr Tanveerul Islam promised to provide ROH with the support it needed to improve the state of the youth. Dr Salman Shahid of the Punjab Aids Control Programme, Iftikhar Mubarik from Sahil, Irfan Mufti from SAP-PK, Bushra Rani, Salman Abid from SPO Pakistan and Zubair Ahmed, the media manager of Ali Akbar Group, were also present. 


Together: The speakers said it was very important for all stakeholders to play a vital role in protecting the youth from drug abuse and HIV/AIDS and providing the best possible resources to the youth to improve their living standards. To that end, the media, parliamentarians, NGOs and other stakeholders needed to work together. They said according to different survey reports, 67 percent of students were using drugs and running the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. 


The programme coordinator, Imtiaz Mubarik, told the audience that the main objective of the event was to start a discussion between different stakeholders about how they could play an effective role in protecting the youth from drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, and to create awareness regarding the problem. 


Attitudes: The speakers said the youth constituted 57 percent of the country’s population. As per statistics provided by the Information Ministry in 2008, about 70 million people are under the age of 18. They said young people were the most vulnerable part of the population. According to the World Drug Report published in 2000 by the UN Drugs Control Programme, Pakistan is one of the countries that have been hit hardest by narcotics abuse and HIV/AIDS.   


The speakers said the problem of substance abuse was a multifaceted one and simply providing the youth with information about narcotics and HIV/AIDS was not a means to solving the problem. They said that sustained involvement on the part of educational institutions to provide counselling services to youths, especially street children, was needed to create an environment in which dialogue could take place, because nobody was ready to talk about the issue. The speakers said parents could also play an important role in preventing and dealing with drug abuse by fostering healthy and responsible attitudes in their children. They said parents, teachers and local organisations needed to be aware of this rising epidemic of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS in Pakistan ’s youth. 





Daily Times

Sunday, June 27, 2010