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ECOWAS holds validation workshop on the 2018-2019 West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) report for the sub-region

The ECOWAS Commission has held a workshop to validate the 2018-2019 West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) Report. The 2018-2019 WENDU report is the second regional report on illicit drug trafficking and drug use in West Africa. The report highlights the latest estimates and trends on drug abuse and drug supply, as well as trafficking in substandard, spurious, falsified, and counterfeit medicinal products in West Africa. The report is based on data collected by the WENDU National Focal Points (NFPs) in each ECOWAS Member State and Mauritania.

The main objective of the workshop is to validate the regional 2018-2019 WENDU report based on the data transmitted by the National Focal Points on the quantities of drugs seized, the number of arrests due to drug-related offenses, and the extent of drug use, reflecting the number of people in treatment in each Member State and Mauritania. Sequel to the validation workshop, the report will be finalized and published as a reference for programming, policy, and advocacy to address the social, health, and economic consequences of substance abuse.

The virtual workshop had in attendance, the National WENDU Focal Points from the ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, technical partners such as the European Union and the African Union Commission, Representatives from the West African Health Organization, and Representatives from directorates of the ECOWAS Commission.

In her opening speech, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, the Commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission welcomed all the delegates to the event. She reiterated that the virtual workshop was a follow-up to the data collection and analysis exercise which culminated in the report that delegates were to validate. She stated that prior to the WENDU Project, access to reliable and comparable data on drugs in West Africa was a huge challenge and that WENDU has made it possible to have evidence-based data for drug use prevention and control in the region.

Mr. Sylvester Koomson, Chair of the Experts’ Meeting and Member State delegate from Ghana, in his opening remark thanked the other Member States and Mauritania for participating in the data collation exercise towards having a comprehensive 2018-2019 report. He said that this report was a follow-up to an earlier report covering 2014-2017 which is meant to provide guidance and input for policymakers in the sub-region. He thereafter wished delegates fruitful deliberations during the period of the validation workshop.

The workshop dissolved into technical sessions where the National focal points for each Member State and Mauritania made presentations on their country report. These reports were subjected to peer-reviews, and subsequently, recommendations and observations on the report were transmitted to the Drug Prevention and Control Division of the ECOWAS Commission.

At the end of the workshop, delegates reviewed and adopted the revised WENDU Report and agreed on the recommendations and observations made towards the final version of the 2018-2019 WENDU Report – Statistics and Trends on Illicit Drug Trafficking and Drug Use.

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