For the next two weeks, representatives from law enforcement agencies will be the pioneers by taking part in the inaugural Universal Drug Curriculum Training in Samoa.
The participants include representatives from the Police, Immigration, Customs, Health and Justice.
Three experts from the Colombo Drug Advisory Programme are facilitating the training designed for the local stakeholders to;
• understand the different dynamics of illicit drug addiction
• the consequences of drug abuse
• engaging and working collaboratively with government agencies, non government organizations, and the community in providing treatment and rehabilitation.
“With this training, you will be professionally equipped to help others with drug addiction and work closely with them to overcome this bondage,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C), Agafili Shem Leo.
“The central message overall, is that whoever is encountering an uphill battle against drug addiction, it’s important for them to know that they are not alone, there is help available, they can be freed from it, and we love them.”
He added that Samoa’s isolation is also compromised noting that the country “can no longer depend on its geographic isolation as a buffer, and turn a blind eye to the continuing rise in the use of illegal drugs in the Pacific.”
“Evidence confirms that illicit drugs are in Samoa and people have been using them.
“Last week, Justice Tuala handed down a guilty verdict to two defendants, for smuggling meth into Samoa from a neighbouring island. Recent meth seizures in Fiji, French Polynesia, and Tonga suggest that the Pacific Island Countries have been used as staging areas for drug smuggling.”
To that effect Agafili is encouraging the participants to take full advantage of the opportunities.
“I see that there is a good representation of officials from various Ministries and non-government organizations in this cohort,” he continued.
“This attests to the fact that drug addiction is complex, and that it requires collective efforts to reach out to those who are in dire need of professional counseling assistance.”
The United States Government via her US Embassy in Apia is assisting M.P.M.C as facilitators of the initiative.
“This is a stance shared by both our nations, as you may be aware of the recent declaration by President Donald Trump that the U.S. opioid crisis is a national public health emergency, with an estimated 91 Americans dying daily from opioid involved deaths,” said the U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Tony Greubel.
“The scourge of drug addiction knows no race, no colour, or national boundary. It affects us all. As President Trump said, ‘As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue.’ It is evident from your presence today that Samoa shares this sentiment. “
In conclusion, the Chief Executive said that above all things, God is ultimately our Guidance, Comforter, Refuge and Strong tower.
“Jesus said, come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11: 28-29).”