Seven-year-old Children Now Abuse Drugs in Nigeria – Doctor cries out

Amid concerns over the destructive impact of drug abuse in the society, a physician and the Chief Medical Director of the Karu General Hospital, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Dr. Osamuade Ojo, has said children as young as seven-years-old now indulge in illicit drug usage in Nigeria.

He disclosed this as members of the Abuja Mega Lions Club have embarked on the completion of the psychiatric wards at the Karu General Hospital in Abuja, at the cost of N50 million.

Ojo said as cases of drug abuse related ill health were growing, the country could only boost of between 300 and 400 psychiatrist doctors.

Speaking at the Fund Raising Dinner for the completion of the psychiatric wards at the Karu General Hospital held at the weekend in Abuja, Ojo lamented that the hospital was being inundated with cases of mental retardation arising from children and adolescents coming from within and outside of the Federal Capital Territory.

“We have psychiatric wards, we have psychiatric nurses and we have resident doctors who are in training. I can tell you people come within Abuja and its environs to access our healthcare services. People also come from as far as Jos, Kaduna, Kano and so many other places to access our mental health care,” she said.

Ojo said government had been making efforts to curb illicit drug use among youths, noting that facilities to treat and rehabilitate those already down with mental illness are not always enough.

She said Nigeria has less than 300 to 400 psychiatrists presently working in the country.

Ojo added: “Now we all know about drug abuse, it is no longer something that is hidden. Everybody is concerned about it and government is trying to control it. But even as we try to curb it, we need to provide treatment for the affected ones because drugs have damaging effects on the brain.

“We are also talking about children here, children as young as seven years are abusing drugs and are being introduced to drugs and alcohol. We know that at that age, brain is still growing and if we do not do something quickly to treat and restore it, that child’s brain could be damaged forever.

“In addition to this, we all know the link between drug use and crime. Drug abuse fuels crime in our society and so it is something that we really need to address.”

Ojo said the Karu General Hospital was probably the only government hospital in the FCT that has the personnel and facility to handle mental health care.

She said the situation has placed enormous burden and pressure on the hospital facilities which can no longer take care of the numerous cases unless they are upgraded.

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