SUVA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Fiji trying its best to address the growing problem of drug and substance abuse that has cost the Government millions of dollars annually.
Talica Malani, assistant director and education officer of the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) told the media Thursday, adding that most of the domestic violence in Fiji was associated to drugs or substance abuse.
According to the official, drug and substance abuse has become a problem in schools around the country as marijuana and cigarette smoking are rampant. To add to this, the new trend of glue and benzene sniffing had made its way into the scene.
Malani quoted a recent newsletter by the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre as saying that it cost the Government around 498 million Fiji dollars (284.57 million US dollars) in 2011 to address issues related to domestic violence, which includes costs involving police, welfare and prison services and medical treatment.
The major contributing factor to domestic violence in Fiji, according to statistics at hand, was associated with the use of drugs and substance abuse, says Malani, adding a lot of criminal activities were closely associated with substance abuse.
Hassan Khan, Director of Fiji's Council of Social Services has also said that the economic and social damage to Fiji is being caused by some widely used substances.
"Alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and yaqona are the four main things that affect Fiji more than the hard drugs because these are gateway drugs these are drugs that are, you know," he said.
However, Malani praised that the government was putting more emphasis on creating more awareness on the negative impacts of drug and substance abuse on a person's health.
This year the NSAAC is piloting an awareness campaign project and is looking to roll out the campaign to the rest of Fiji next year.
"We have started training people on how to teach other people to tackle drug and substance abuse problems and our main target areas are the schools," he said, adding "we have trained many teachers. In Vanua Levu, we trained teachers from schools in all the three provinces."
As a result, we have recorded a huge decrease of drug use and substance abuse in schools, according to an observation from a follow-up survey in 2010 which was compared to a base survey a couple of years ago, says Malani.