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Pan African Parliament proposes standard law against drug abuse

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During the formal debate, Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana, the head of Kenya's delegation, pushed for a unified legal framework, citing issuesin surrounding trade and consumption of muguka.

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) is advocating for a continent-wide standard law to combat drug abuse, following alarming revelations during its latest session in Johannesburg, South Africa. on Saturday.

Dr Olubusayo Akinola, the head of Drug Control and Crime Prevention at the African Union Commission(AUC), informed the PAP that at least 576,058 Africans have been arrested on the continent while trying to traffic drugs.

Slightly over 10 per cent were female, Akinola said in a presentation before a formal debate, adding that they were likely trafficking drugs that were not theirs.

Shocking practices were also highlighted, such as youths in an unnamed West African country digging up graves to grind bones and smoke the dust, as well as scraping and drying diaper contents and inhaling preserved urine to get high.

During the formal debate, Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana, the head of Kenya's delegation, pushed for a unified legal framework.

"A model law would strengthen the war against illicit drugs and create much-needed synergy across Africa," he argued, citing the muguka matter in Kenya and suggesting it could have been resolved more efficiently with a continent-wide standard law.

“In Kenya, we have a big problem with the drug called muguka. Six governors from the coastal province where I come from have banned this drug and said they do not want its sale and distribution in our six counties," he said.

"The three counties from the highland area, who are producing this drug, have gone to court to say it must continue being distributed and sold, so we have a big problem in our country."

Describing the discussion as "very relevant", Mungatana noted that coastal governors argue that cathinone and cathine, the active ingredients in muguka, are prohibited by the Psychotropic Drugs Act in Kenya, while the governors in the highlands say it is a cash crop covered by the law, which presents a conflict.

“I propose that we should have a modern law to schedule all drugs that we have said are not good. If we had a modern law from PAP I would be able to argue in the Senate of Kenya that this is a psychotropic drug that we cannot use in this country. The time has come for us to rise.".

The plenary session endorsed the proposal, marking a significant step in the fight against illicit drugs across Africa.

In a related discussion, Mungatana emphasised the importance of institutionalising research in African traditional medicine. Highlighting the trust many Africans place in traditional remedies, he pointed to the success South Africa had in its HIV battle by involving traditional healers, known as sangomas, in advocacy efforts.

"Research showed that people would take HIV tests and ARVs after being told to do so by their sangomas," he said, adding that frequent visits by Chinese traditional doctors to Lesotho to study local herbs underscored the global interest in African traditional medicine.

Further, Mungatana strongly supported the African Union's decision to establish the African Scientific Research and Innovation Commission, advocating for a structured approach to harnessing traditional medical knowledge.

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