Epidemiology experts are moving closer towards greater, efficient and reliable collection and analyses of data on drug use in the West African region.
At the close of the two-Day meeting of the meeting of technical experts of the West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) on the 14th of July at the auditorium of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, participants affirmed that the capacities of National Focal Points (NFPs) in the monitoring of key drug use and supply with the WENDU Data and Country Reporting Forms had been strengthened remarkably.
“We are marching on” said the ECOWAS Director, Gender Youth, Sports, CSO, Employment and Drug ControlDr. Sintiki Ugbe while winding up the meeting. She noted that the confidence of the regional body stems from the support of the funding and technical partners.
Expressing satisfaction that WENDU which merely had in its fold eight member states in 2014 now had 15 of the ECOWAS member states by close of 2015, she enthused that the Commission is ardently looking forward to reports from across the region on the steps being taken to advance the WENDU action plan meant to guarantee greater health for citizens of West Africa.
Thanking the experts, stakeholders and delegates for their prized efforts in preparing and presenting country reports Dr. Sintiki who was representing the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender Dr. Fatimata Sow maintained that such commitment is an indicator of their willingness to continuously collaborate with the ECOWAS Commission and partners to make the region a proud, and secure place to live as well as creating a healthy environment besides ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are kept on course.
The Programme Coordinator of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) Mr. Cheikh Toure stressed that the partners are desirous of seeing increased capacities of all the officers involved in the regional project while putting systems in place for easier collection and analyses of relevant data.
During the meeting, an update of activities on the implementation of the 2008-2014 regional action plan was given. The experts assessed the level of knowledge and attitude towards generating data using the WENDU country reporting Form.
They looked at how to generate epidemiology data at the regional and national level on drug treatment demand indicators and aggregate data on drug supply as well as the need to build scientific-based evidence for drug demand reduction through the effective treatment and prevention activities.
Also appraised were matters revolving around analytical methodologies for effective data collection, generation, dissemination as well as overview of country reporting format.
Further, presentations were made on lessons learnt and the all-important issue of promoting sustainability of data collection at the national level while looking at regional perspectives, among others.
There were also scenario review on the situation in member states like Nigeria including drug treatment data and drug seizures at the national level after a presentation of the working methodology and general objectives of the WENDU convergence was given by the ECOWAS Programme Officer Drug Demand Reduction Dr. Olubusayo Akinola.
Before rising, the experts reached agreements on desirable strategies to foster inter-agency collaboration among key stakeholders including civil society in gathering and analysis of data. The NFP in applying the tools with the technical support of ECOWAS and UNODC are to now send in reports that will feed into the ECOWAS Annual Drug Report.
The report of the meeting, to be presented at a later date would generally cover improved, institutionalized data collection and analysis mechanisms, availability of published studies at the regional and national levels as well as raising of evidence based policies on drug demand reduction.
Originally Published by ECOWAS.