Sierra Leone’s Declaration: Drug Abuse Elevated to National Emergency Status

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has announced a national emergency in response to the widespread issue of drug abuse in the country, particularly targeting the fight against a synthetic drug known as kush, which is popular among the youth. Kush, a concoction of various substances that produce effects similar to those of cannabis and tramadol, has become a significant concern, especially in urban areas. “Our nation is under siege from the catastrophic effects of drugs and addiction, with the synthetic drug kush leading the charge,” President Bio stated in a national address on Thursday, highlighting the dire impact on communities.

He detailed his administration’s efforts to break up the networks responsible for drug trafficking within the country. Kush also referred to as K2, has become a readily available escape for unemployed young people, providing temporary relief from poverty and life’s hardships. However, health professionals have raised alarms about the drug’s potential to cause irreversible brain damage and lead to suicidal behavior.

To address this crisis, the government of Sierra Leone inaugurated a rehabilitation center in February for those suffering from drug addiction and established a ministerial task force to further this cause. The problem of increasing kush usage is not isolated to Sierra Leone, as neighboring countries Guinea and Liberia are also grappling with this challenge. In Liberia, President Joseph Boakai has labeled drug abuse as a public health emergency and, during his first State of the Nation address in January, revealed plans for a committee dedicated to combating this “existential threat. ยป