The Nigerian Senate has developed two draft bills for legislation to tackle drug abuse as part of the outcome of the roundtable convened by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in December 2017 in Kano on the rising drug abuse in the country.
The proposed bills are National Drug Control Bill and National Mental Health Bill. A statement by the Media Office of the President of the Senate said the Drug Control Bill seeks to clarify the mandate and strengthen the capacity of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to eradicate the illicit production, and trafficking of controlled substances.
“It also seeks to establish a central mechanism to facilitate collaboration among law enforcement, regulatory and public health authorities in line with the National Drug Control Policy. The Bill further focuses on proactive law enforcement and regulatory measures towards the eradication of the illicit importation, production and trafficking of controlled substances.” The statement further said the bill sought to criminalise the diversion, distribution or otherwise dispensing of controlled substances without a prescription or license.
On mental health bill, the statement noted that, in recognition of the fact that psychosocial issues are the key drivers for the abuse of the psychoactive substance, the bill was crafted to ensure that standard facilities were available in every state to provide mental health and substance abuse services.
The proposed law guarantees the protection of the rights of people with mental illness and stipulates that mental health practitioners and facilities no longer engage in practices that are harmful to people with mental health and substance use disorders. In recognising the low number of mental health practitioners in the country with the ratio of practitioners at one psychiatrist to 1.6 million people, the draft law makes provision for quality mental health and substance abuse services available for women and adolescents, who are an underserved segment of the population.