The National – Tuesday, November 30, 2010
By YVONNE HAIP
PNG is likely to become a sick nation if more controls and preventive measures on the use of drugs and alcohol are not put in place.
This was revealed by the National Health Department’s technical officers of non-communicable diseases, Vicky Wari, during a five-day regional training conducted at the Mt Hagen General Hospital.
Wari said people were increasingly abusing drugs and alcohol, and if nothing was done about this, it would lead to an increase in more social problems and less productive people.
She said the use of marijuana was becoming a concern with almost 90% of those seeking treatment for mental illnesses at the Laloki mental hospital in Port Moresby was due to an addiction of the drug.
She said that those admitted at the hospital were mostly males between the ages of 15 and 35.
She added that binge drinking was also a problem and most people do not realise its effects and impacts on their lives and in the lives of others.
In order to address this, the health department had decided to carry out such trainings in all regions in the country.
The training called ‘Assist’ (alcohol, smoking, substance, involvement, screening, and testing) aims to train people working on the ground to screen individuals who are abusing alcohol, smoking and other substances early.
A total of 10 people from the Highlands hospitals attended the training and would later impart what they learnt to others.
The trainees should now be able to assess the risk behavior, give counselling, provide options to help reduce the use of drugs and alcohol and implement other programmes.
This is a first for the country and has been incorporated to prepare people on the ground to address the issue.
Highlands region was selected to benefit first because of the mining activities in the region and the possibility that alcohol and drug-related problems would increase.
The training was facilitated by Wari and Lama Rema, who is Laloki’s clinical psychiatric and health extension officer.