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UK Drug Laws Used As Tool Of Systemic Racism, Says Ex-No 10 Adviser

Systemic Racism

UK drug laws used as tool of systemic racism, says ex-No 10 adviser

Britain’s drug laws are racist and cause “high levels of mental health harm” among black people, a former No 10 race adviser has said.

Simon Woolley said drugs legislation introduced 50 years ago had failed to cut the use, supply and harms associated with illegal drugs, and instead was used “as a tool of systemic racism”.

Despite white people reporting higher rates of drug consumption, black people were more likely to be stopped and searched for suspected drug possession and were more likely to be arrested, charged and imprisoned for drug offences, he said.

Lord Woolley, 59, who was appointed by Theresa May to chair the government’s race disparity unit’s advisory group and is now a crossbench peer, said the failure of UK drugs legislation was having a devastating impact on public health.

“It creates anxiety, stress and alienation that contribute to the high levels of mental health harm experienced across our black communities,” he wrote in the BMJ, as he appealed for doctors to speak out on the issue.

“For decades, politicians from all sides have either turned a blind eye to drug policy failures or weaponised the debate to score cheap political points,” he said. “This has led to half a century of stagnation, which has landed with force on our black communities, driving up needless criminalisation and undermining relationships with the police.”

Woolley, who this year became the first black man to be elected head of an Oxbridge college, is calling for a review of whether the Misuse of Drugs Act is fit for purpose. In his BMJ article, he urged the medical profession to support a root-and-branch review of the law to consider alternative approaches.

“Such a review should provide a comprehensive, independent assessment of the effects of the Misuse of Drugs Act and its fitness for purpose 50 years on,” he wrote. “It must also consider in detail the options for alternative approaches, including the growing body of evidence indicating benefit in both decriminalisation of people who take drugs and legal regulation of non-medical drug supplies worldwide.”

He said UK policy failed everybody, and black communities in particular. “Drug prohibition is racist in its DNA and in its impact on our society today,” he wrote. “It is rooted in a series of attacks, in the US, the UK and elsewhere, on non-white communities and the substances they were associated with, regardless of whether they actually took those drugs in high numbers.”

Drug-related deaths in England and Wales rose for the eighth year in a row in 2020. They remain at their highest level in more than a quarter of a century, according to the Office for National Statistics. Separate figures show Scotland continues to have the worst drug death rate in Europe.

Woolley said a punitive drug policy was “one of the most tangible and damaging means through which systemic racism is experienced in black communities”.

Describing the “profound dehumanisation” of stop-and-search tactics and strip searches, both of which he has experienced, he said: “You are stripped bare and have to crudely show that you have nothing hidden anywhere. The sense of being both powerless and humiliated instils anger and deep distrust in not only law enforcement but also the authorities that sanction it.”

Woolley added: “We have a growing literature on what works and what causes harm in drug policy, including how to tackle racial inequalities, which should inform policymakers. We need to base policy on the evidence, not fear and political inertia. We need a mature, informed and open debate on this topic, and we have to be prepared to discuss all options if we are to resolve the current crisis.

“Whatever our views on how we can do drug policy better, without a serious open and adult discussion – and without the key medical bodies actively supporting that debate – we will face more decades of stagnation and failure.”

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Health

F.G Approves Establishment Of Teaching Hospital In Taraba

The establishment of a Federal teaching hospital in Taraba State has been approved by the Federal Government.

Approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, the teaching hospital is to be sited at the federal university in Wukari Local Government Area of the State.

In a letter dated 26th of September 2022, the President gave the nod to the leadership of the institution to go ahead with the establishment of the health institution.

The letter which was signed on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, by the Director of Health, Teaching Hospital Division, Dr. Noah Andrew, urged the leadership of the university to make sure that all the needed facilities are in place.

“I am directed to refer to a letter dated 2nd September 2022 referenced SGF 6/T/380 from the Secretary of the Government of the Federation to inform you that His Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari, has graciously approved the establishment of a federal teaching hospital for the federal University, Wukari, Taraba State”, the letter read in part.

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Kaduna Enrolls 136,507 Into Health Scheme

The Kaduna state government has disclosed that it has enrolled about 136,507 poor and vulnerable population into the Kaduna State health insurance scheme.

Head of Administration and Finance, Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Authority (KADCHMA), Mr Suleiman Mustapha, disclosed this in Kaduna, during a one-day Roundtable Dialogue on maternal and child health.

The Maternal and Child Health-Civil Society (MCH-CS) Partnership with support from Save the Children International organised the round table.

Mustapha said 79,329 poor and vulnerable populations were enroled for free basic health under the one per cent consolidated revenue of the state government.

According to him, the state government had so far released N1.1 billion to cover the basic health care services of the poor and vulnerable.

He also said an additional 50,648 poor and vulnerable population were enroled under the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, adding that a total of N1.1 billion had also been contributed to cover their healthcare.

KADCHMA Executive Secretary , Mr Abubakar Hassan, said the agency was established in February 2018 and began provision of health services in June 2020.

According to him, the health scheme is part of the state’s human capital development and social protection strategy for all residents.

 

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55,000 Die Of Rabies Annually In Nigeria- USAID

The United States Agency For International Development USAID has disclosed that at least 55, 000 Nigerians die of rabies every year.

It said rabid dogs account for about 94 percent of confirmed human infections.

This was revealed by Mieko Mckay, Deputy Office Director for Health, USAID Nigeria, in Abuja on Monday during the launch of the National Strategic Plan for Elimination of Dog-Mediated Human Rabies in Nigeria.

The event was organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the Federal of Health and Breakthrough ACTION -Nigeria and other partners ahead of this year’s World Rabies Day.

Country Representative, World Health Organisation, Walter Mulombo, represented by his deputy, Alexander Chimbaru, said there were recent cases in Gombe and Enugu States.

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