Gambia to approach drug abuse as public health issue

Gambia to approach drug abuse as public health issue


By Alagie Manneh

Finance minister Mambury Njie said The Gambia will consider drug abuse as a public health instead of criminal justice issue that has seen hundreds of youths facing jail terms.

This means drug users in the country will no longer face criminal charges by virtue of their drug use.


The programme, if implemented, will trigger a national shift from approaching drug abuse as a criminal justice matter.

“It is evident that the trend of drug abuse is consistently on the increase resulting in many of our youths experiencing mental illnesses that are drug induced,” Mr Njie said during the budget speech at the National Assembly. “To address this, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency intends to implement a rehabilitation programme for victims of drug abuse.”

Drug abuse especially among young people is a major concern in The Gambia. According to the 2018 WHO data, drug use deaths in The Gambia reached 21 or 0.15 percent of total deaths.

Speaking further, he said the Gambia Police Force has registered “laudable achievements” in the fight against crimes despite resource constraints and the effects of Covid-19.

“The Zero Crime Operation launched early this year has proven effective in combatting the increase in criminal activities as several criminals were arrested and hideouts demolished. Those arrested are going through the due process of the law.  The government is committed to providing the requisite resources to combat all criminal activities,” he said.

He also noted that another government initiative to help prison inmates with income generating skills before their release is underway.

“This will help facilitate their reintegration into society and promote their employability after release thereby reducing their likelihood of reoffending.”