The Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) on Thursday held a Town Hall Meeting with Caregivers and other Non-Governmental Organisations in the disability community, tagged: “Health Services And Menace of Drug Abuse Among the People with Disability in Lagos State”, at the LCCI Building, Nurudeen Olowopopo Way, Alausa Ikeja.
Speaking at the meeting, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Mobolaji Ogunlende said the menace of drug abuse among people with disabilities cannot be ignored and the vulnerabilities faced by individuals with disabilities make them particularly vulnerable to substance abuse, often as a means of coping with pain, isolation, or other challenges. He emphasised that it is imperative that preventive measures are implemented and support systems established to address the issue effectively.
The Commissioner, represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Mobilization, Mr. Alabi Opeyemi Oladimeji, said, “Education and awareness play a vital role in combating drug abuse. By conducting targeted campaigns and workshops, we can disseminate information about the risks associated with substance abuse, equip individuals with coping mechanisms, and empower them to make informed decisions”.
Speaking further, he noted that collaboration between various stakeholders is key to achieving comprehensive and sustainable improvements in healthcare services for people with disabilities. “It entails partnering with disability organisations, healthcare professionals, government agencies, and community leaders to develop inclusive policies, share resources, and foster a collective commitment to positive change”, he added.
Reiterating the commitment of the Lagos State Government to the well-being of PWD, Ogunlende said the present administration is fully involved in ensuring that individuals with disabilities in Lagos are given access to healthcare services. “We must recognise the fundamental right of every individual, regardless of their abilities, to access quality healthcare services. It is our responsibility as a society to ensure that healthcare is inclusive, equitable, and tailored to the unique needs of people with disabilities”, he started.
Earlier in her welcome address, the General Manager of Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs, Mrs. Adenike Oyetunde-Lawal stressed the importance of engaging the communities on the risks associated with drug abuse and the long cycle of recovery.
She said, “It’s not a conversation that we can shy away from, people abuse alcohol and cigarettes which often damage the lungs. So we have a problem on our hands and we are hoping that through this engagement, we will be able to equip you with the necessary tools that you can use to navigate this issue, I am very optimistic that our deliberations will yield positive results”.
She, therefore, called on everyone in the community to ensure they talk about this issue and educate everyone around them, saying all hands must be on deck to combat the menace that keeps increasing in our society.
The interactive session also had in attendance the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Pharm. (Mrs.) Oluwatoyin Oke-Osanyintolu; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Parastatal Monitoring Office, Dr. Olugbenga Aina, who gave a lecture on the dangers of drug abuse and other representatives from the Ministries of Tertiary Education, Basic Education, Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation as well as the Lagos State Health Management Agency amongst others.