Substance Abuse Linked To Near 100 St Giles Patients

Close to 100 of the more than 500 patients admitted at the St Giles Hospital between the period of May 2017 to April 2018, were linked to substance abuse. With
11 Sep 2018 09:00
Substance Abuse Linked To Near 100 St Giles Patients
Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho. Photo: Police Media Cell

Close to 100 of the more than 500 patients admitted at the St Giles Hospital between the period of May 2017 to April 2018, were linked to substance abuse.

With that Methamphetamine has made it to the list of the com­mon substances abused, and that should ring alarm bells.

This was highlighted by the Com­missioner of Police, Brigadier- General Sitiveni Qiliho at the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (US-DEA) workshop in Nasese yesterday on Clandestine Labs.

“The most common substance abused according to the Health officials are cannabis, metham­phetamine, cigarettes, kava and alcohol.”

He highlighted the case that was revealed last month on how a mother of a 17-year-old girl reached out for help, as her daugh­ter was showing symptoms of drug abuse linked to methamphet­amine use.

“As a father, I was overwhelmed with different emotions and sought answers to try and comfort the distressed mother, knowing that this is a predicament that is new to the family not knowing what to do.

“When the news broke of this young girl succumbing to the ef­fects of methamphetamine use, it triggered a lot of discussion because it was new to us as a so­ciety.”

He adds that as the Commis­sioner of Police, he vowed to do more to keep another innocent life from falling victim to drug abuse and that was why on September 1, 2018, Operation Cavuraka 4 was launched throughout Fiji to ad­dress the increase in drug related offences.

Training on Clandestine Labs:

The weeklong training will large­ly be focused on clandestine labs.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said they have recorded three cases of such laboratories; with the major discovery in 2004, the other two although on a smaller scale in Nakasi in 2013 and in Valelevu in 2015.

He said this warrants their im­mediate attention as they need to be vigilant in policing the manu­facturing of the illicit drugs.

“Twenty reports of seizures of experimental drugs have been re­ceived and while they have tested negative, it does however point to the fact that people are testing the waters.

“Information on how it’s manu­factured is easily available, as is the chemicals needed, which is why we need to increase the tempo of our operations and be ahead of this evolving trade.”

He adds that clandestine labs comes in all sizes and could eas­ily be set up within the privacy of one’s home which was why they needed to be smarter and be more alert to the signs of its operations.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said the assistance of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (US-DEA) would create a major impact on policing.

Officers removed:

Brigadier-General Qiliho high­lighted that officers have been re­moved from their institution for helping keep the drug trade alive and those involved in business.

“I am optimistic that we are all here for the same purpose and that is to ensure that no other parent or family member will have to reach out for help when their child or loved one is suffering from the effects of drug abuse,” he said.

“Life is a precious commodity that we are entrusted to protect and it is a responsibility that we should not take lightly.”

He urged them to put the knowl­edge to good use as they are deal­ing with a very lucrative industry that has the potential to corrupt an individual.

“We are being given this golden opportunity to learn from one of the very best drug enforcement agencies and their reputation as being the best is known the world over,” he said.

“I don’t want to read a head­line that says “Fiji’s law enforcement loses control of meth in­dustry”, because it can be con­trolled.

“By combin­ing our re­sources and putting to use the knowledge the US-DEA of­ficials will im­part during this training, we can control, combat and send a strong message to those already involved or are thinking of being part of this illicit trade that we will get to them.

“We need to nip this problem in the bud before it gets bigger and I know it can be done,” Brigadier- General Qiliho said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.

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