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Talking Solutions on Drugs

Talking Solutions on Drugs

As the whoonga (nyaope) “bluetooth” drug craze continues to send shock-waves throughout South Africa, the Urban Futures Centre (UFC) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), in partnership with the TB/HIV Care Association (THCA), are preparing to host the Let’s talk about drug solutions, and stop the harm! seminar, which focuses on problematic drug use and solutions which seek to reduce harm. 

The seminar will be held on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 at the DUT Steve Biko Campus, Block S2, Level 1, Room 104 (18h00 to 20h00). 

“Bluetooth” – the trend of sharing blood between nyaope users in a desperate but futile attempt at getting high- is being heralded as a health crisis that could increase the chances of transmission of HIV, hepatitis and other blood disease infections. 

“We need to start talking about drugs. More importantly, we need to talk about solutions to reduce the harms caused by drugs and the way we enforce laws,” said Professor Monique Marks, Research Professor at the Durban University of Technology’s Urban Futures Centre. Prof Marks, a Criminologist by training, has also pioneered the City Without Walls initiative, which has set tongues wagging around the world with her evidence-based argument that high walls are in fact a hindrance to security. 

“Whoonga use is common in the city and new drugs continue to become available. Despite great efforts such as tough love, zero tolerance, and the war on drugs, efforts by police and communities have not made our city safer nor have they helped the majority of people who use drugs. This public lecture will provide a chance to share experiences of harm reduction, an approach that allows us to treat all people with respect and give support to people who use drugs, as we all work together to build safer, healthier communities,” said Prof Marks. 

The seminar will include information on the UFC’s plans to start an opioid substitution therapy demonstration project, as well as stories from people who have been on opioid substitution therapy. The seminar will feature talks by Prof Marks, Shaun Shelly (THCA), and Dr Andrew Scheibe (THCA/DUT), as well as community representatives. A message of support will be given by eThekwini Deputy Mayor, Fawzia Peer. 

For more information or interviews before the event, please contact Professor Monique Marks on 084 40 33 934/ 031 373 2180 or

– Sinegugu Ndlovu

Pictured: Prof Monique Marks, Research Professor at the Durban University of Technology’s Urban Futures Centre. 

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