The Durban University of Technology Urban Futures Centre joined forces with the TB/HIV Care Association to reduce the harm caused by drugs.
The United Nationals declared 26 June as the ‘International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a day that nations gather in discussing, raising awareness on the war on drugs. This is the second year that DUT UFC and Durban took part in the global advocacy campaign, that notably coincides with Youth Month in South Africa, as problematic drug use is a hard reality for an increasing number of young people.
On Monday (26 June 2017), UFC and the TB/HIV Care Association along with academics and members of the community began with a protest march from Bulwer Park to the THCA Drop-In-Centre in Umbilo. The march was attended by a number of clients of the Drop-In-Centre, many who are beneficiaries of the UFC/THCA Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) Project, shared their stories and experiences.
The OST Demonstration Project is the first low-threshold project of its kind in South Africa. The programme aims to show that OST can be delivered in the South African setting, insight into potential challenges and economic implications. To date, 17 beneficiaries have been initiated onto an OST medication (methadone). In total, the programme aims to recruit 50 whoonga users into the project. The beneficiaries who are currently on the programme are already experiencing a number of positive changes in their quality of life, through reconnecting with family and friends, setting personal life goals, and through obtaining a part-time employment.
Keaton Malgas of Newlands East, a recovering whoonga/Nyaope user who has been on the programme for a month, has recently secured himself employment. Although he has been to various rehabilitation centres, he is hopeful that methadone is going to help him change his lifestyle.
“The journey of staying clean is not an easy one. It is a long process but I am hopeful that it will get better with time. I see my life in a positive light now,” he said.
Addressing the attendants of the March, Professor Monique Marks (Head of UFC) stressed that the programme aimed to reduce the harm that drugs do. “We want you to be in control of your lives. You are not alone, we are in this together”.
Pictured: Professor Monique Marks (Head of the Urban Futures Centre) addressing attendants of the Support Don’t Punish advocacy event.