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DHRAN leads charge against drug criminalization in Nigeria

In a bold move to address the escalating drug crisis in Nigeria, the Drug Harm Reduction Advocacy Network (DHRAN) is spearheading efforts to end drug criminalization in the country.

Collaborating with key partners, DHRAN is determined to shift national policies and safeguard the rights of individuals who use drugs.

Participants at the 3-day In-country Engagement Planning Meeting.

According to a 2018 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), over 14.3 million Nigerians are drug users. The report highlights that inadequate government policies and ineffective drug laws have exacerbated the problem, severely impacting the lives and overall well-being of drug users.

In Nigeria, drug users frequently face stigma, discrimination, arrests, and incarceration by law enforcement agencies. The situation has recently become more critical with the Nigerian Senate quietly proposing a bill that includes the death penalty for drug users, underscoring the urgent need for reform.

As a network led by drug users, DHRAN feels a compelling obligation to challenge these harsh measures and advocate for the recognition and respect of human rights for drug users. To this end, DHRAN, in collaboration with its partners, organized a three-day In-country Engagement Planning Meeting to strategize on advocacy efforts. The event brought together stakeholders and drug-user-led communities to explore advocacy opportunities and chart a course toward the decriminalization of drug use in Nigeria.

The meeting, held in Abuja from May 14 to 16, 2024, saw the participation of 34 stakeholders, including representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health, National AIDS and STDs Control Programme (NASC), National Human Rights Commission, Society For Family Health (SFH), Nigerian Institute of Human Virology, and various drug user-led community leaders.

During the event, DHRAN Chairman Mr. Aniedi Akpan delivered several presentations outlining the network’s journey, strategies, and plans aimed at improving the lives and protection of individuals affected by drug use in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event while delivering his goodwill message, Dr. Patrick Dakum, Managing Director of the Society for Family Health and the Country Control Mechanism of the Global Fund in Nigeria, commended DHRAN for its growth and progress over the years. He affirmed that they will continue to work with DHRAN to achieve the best outcomes in programs and interventions for key populations.

Through these concerted efforts, DHRAN and its partners hope to create a more humane and supportive environment for drug users, promoting policies that emphasize health and human rights over punitive measures.


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