UNODC supports the establishment of National Epidemiology Network on drug use in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire

 This activity was funded by the European Union

Liberia, July 27, 2017- Drug abuse is a major public health problem in the world.  West Africa serves as a transit area for illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin bound for Europe and other regions. According to the UNODC World Drug Report 2017, "An estimated quarter of a billion people, or around 5 per cent of the global adult population, used drugs at least once in 2015. Even more worrisome is the fact that about 29.5 million of those drug users, or 0.6 per cent of the global adult population, suffer from drug use disorders." Besides, over the past few years, drug use and drug use disorders have become a growing concern in the region. While communities in West Africa suffer from psychosocial, economic, and health consequences of drug abuse, unavailability of reliable data for monitoring the extent, patterns, and trends of drug abuse constitutes a major setback to prevention, and demand reduction efforts in the region.

UNODC, in collaboration with ECOWAS is implementing the project - " Support to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on drug trafficking, organized crime related to it and drug abuse in West Africafunded by the European Union which aims among others, "to ensure that harmonised information on drug abuse epidemiology and data collection are available in the region."

To address the gap in epidemiological data on the demand and consumption of drugs, the UNODC organized an "Inaugural Meeting of Epidemiology Network on Drug Use and National Workshop on Collection, Analysis, and Dissemination of Data on Drug Use" in Liberia. Both events took place in Liberia (from 27 th to 28 th, July) and the same set of activities will take place in Côte d'Ivoire from 16th and 17th August 2017. 

  
Group photo of participants to the lauchning workshop to the National Epidemiology Network. Liberia, 27-28 July, 2017 ©UNODC/2017

The objective of these activities is to provide learning tools for best practices regarding drug use data collection and to develop capacities to collect, collate, and disseminate quality data on drug use patterns. First, the national epidemiology network on drug use serves as an interactive platform that allows drug use professionals to identify existing drug use patterns, monitor drug use patterns and problems, and disseminate information to communities and stakeholders on a regular basis.  

Then, the national workshop was in the line with the previous West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) regional workshops (Abuja, Dakar, Abidjan) of which the objective was putting in place harmonized data collection methodologies and tools. The meeting brought together selected focal points from drug treatment/rehabilitation facilities in Liberia, drug use experts in relevant government institutions, and Civil Society Organizations. ECOWAS, UNODC and other organizations provided experts as facilitators.

In Côte d'Ivoire, 9 pilot sites have been selected for inclusion in the epidemiology network and 8 have been selected in Liberia.

High level stakeholders including Ministers, Heads of institutions (health, drug law enforcement agencies, and other organizations) involved in Drug Demand Reduction participated in the launch of the national network.

To ensure that national drug information systems are developed such that they can feed harmonized and reliable data into the WENDU, UNODC carried out initial processes for establishment of the national network with active collaboration with the stakeholders in both countries. A number of steps were also taken to ensure country ownership of the network and sustainability. 

UNODC has provided technical assistance to West African States for the past 20 years through its Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN) in Dakar, Senegal and 10 other local offices based in different countries of the region. As a guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) and its Protocols, as well as the three Conventions on International Drug Control; UNODC is mandated to assist Member States to strengthen their national response capacities on the matter, in accordance with their international obligations.

For more information:

UNODC action against drug trafficking in West Africa

Support Project to ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking in West Africa

UNODC Regional Programme 2016-2020 

ECOWAS Drug Unit web portal