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Sierra Leone declares national emergency over ‘Kush’ drug epidemic

The government of Sierra Leone announced a national emergency, recognizing the need to address the concerning rise of ‘Kush’ drug abuse among the country’s young population.

Kush, a potent synthetic drug mixed with marijuana, fentanyl or tramadol, has surged in popularity among Sierra Leone’s young population, posing a significant threat to public health and security.

The declaration of a national emergency signifies the gravity of the situation and the government’s commitment to tackling the drug epidemic head-on.

President Julius Maada Bio, in an address to the nation, expressed deep concern over the proliferation of Kush and its detrimental impact on users, their families, and wider communities across Sierra Leone.

‘The deadly Kush, which knows no boundaries of class, ethnicity, gender and religion, is taking a devastating toll on our communities, tearing apart families and robbing us of our future leaders,’ said the president.

Known for its addictive properties and dangerous side effects, Kush has wreaked havoc on the lives of the country’s youth. The drug, often disturbingly mixed with human bones, has prompted the illicit exhumation of bodies from graveyards in recent times.

The rise in Kush abuse has strained healthcare resources and overwhelmed treatment facilities, exacerbating an already fragile system. Hospitals and clinics report a surge in admissions related to Kush intoxication, placing immense pressure on medical personnel and facilities ill-equipped to handle the influx of patients.

The societal impact of Kush addiction extends beyond individual health concerns, with widespread repercussions across industry productivity, education, and crime rates. Many young people succumb to addiction, forsaking their education and employment prospects, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and despair.

Additionally, the drug trade associated with Kush has fueled criminal activity, undermining efforts to maintain law and order in affected communities.

Recognizing the worsening drug epidemic in the country, the government issued an emergency plan to combat the situation. From nationwide education campaigns, there is a need to raise awareness about its dangers and promote addiction support services.

In February, Sierra Leone invested in establishing a rehabilitation center for victims of drug abuse and set up a ministerial task force. This was to accommodate the growing demand for support and provide comprehensive care for affected individuals.

The government has vowed to strengthen law enforcement efforts to disrupt the supply chain of drug trafficking networks involved in the production, distribution, and sale of Kush.

Implementation of initiatives aimed at empowering young people with skills, education, and employment opportunities to steer them away from substance abuse was also highlighted as a key solution.

Like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are also struggling with the Kush epidemic. The Sierra Leone government underscored the need to collaborate with regional and international partners to exchange information, resources, and best practices in addressing drug trafficking and substance abuse.

It is important to confront the Kush epidemic with urgency and restore hope to affected youths, and build a more resilient and prosperous Sierra Leone for generations to come.