The Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, in partnership with various stakeholders, successfully launched the National Task Force on Drug and Substance Abuse, focusing on the epidemic of Kush in the Southern Region, on Thursday, June 6, 2024, at the Bo City Council Chamber.

The launch event was attended by key figures including the Minister and Deputy Minister of Local Government and Community Affairs, Paramount Chiefs, District and City Council chairpersons, Councilors, District Medical Officers, the Regional Police Commander, representatives from Civil Society Organizations, Council Gender Desk Officers, and many others. Notably, the event also saw the participation of numerous boys and girls who had formerly been addicted to Kush but are now undergoing rehabilitation in Bo.

The establishment of the task force follows President Julius Maada Bio’s declaration of a state of emergency on drug and substance abuse on April 4, 2024. The President appointed Professor Foday Sahr to lead the task force, which is structured around five key pillars: information, community engagement, treatment and rehabilitation, reintegration, and law enforcement.

In an interview, Ambassador Tamba Lamina, the Minister of Local Government and Community Affairs, announced that each district would have its task force, led by District/City Council chairpersons and deputized by District Medical Officers. Minister Lamina expressed his satisfaction with the turnout, particularly commending the presence and testimonies of former Kush users.

Minister Lamina highlighted the alarming rates of drug and substance abuse and called for collective efforts to combat this menace. He emphasized that his ministry’s responsibilities include community engagement and awareness-raising. The government is actively working to establish rehabilitation and treatment centers in each region and is currently sourcing funds to ensure comprehensive reintegration processes for Kush survivors, including skills training and other support mechanisms.

The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Community Affairs unveiled the slogan for the Task Force: “Ar know but Kush, way u?”. This slogan aims to resonate with the youth and encourage them to steer clear of harmful substances.

Abu Joe Sesay, Head of Strategic Communications at the Ministry of Information and Civic Education, and the lead for the task force’s information pillar, alongside Dr. Amara Steven Ngegbai, the Bo District Medical Officer, also addressed the gathering. Dr. Ngegbai detailed the severe health risks associated with Kush, urging citizens to abstain from drug and substance abuse.

The stakeholders’ meeting concluded with a sensitization campaign, where attendees visited strategic locations in Bo City to raise awareness about the dangers of drug and substance abuse, particularly Kush, and the importance of cessation and rehabilitation efforts.