ZIMBABWEAN children as young as nine years have resorted to making illicit brews from cereals in order to intoxicate themselves, police have said.

Speaking during an awareness cam- paign in Harare over the weekend, officer commanding Harare suburban, Raudzi Chuma, said children were now using food items to create highly intoxicating brews to supplement the already known illegal drugs on the streets such as mutoriro and others.

“Drug abuse is a growing public health and security problem in Zimbabwe and particularly in Harare suburban district.

“The increase of violent crimes, unintentional in- juries, road traffic accidents, multiple medical complications as well as psychological and mental health complications is greatly linked to drug and substance abuse.

“Drug abuse has continued to claim the precious lives of our people and that includes able-bodied men and women with the potential of steering national development.

“Of concern now is also the initiation of young children, as young as nine years, into drugs and substance abuse resulting in ju- venile suicides.

“We have had reports of kids taking jolly juice and fermenting cereals and cornflakes into illegal highly intoxicating brews,” Chuma said.

She also said the fight against drug and substance abuse needed combined efforts from communities, the police and law mak- ers so that drug peddlers and end users are brought to book.

“Drug and substance abuse is a complex socio-economic issue that requires a multi- stakeholder and integrated approach. The coming together today of the ministry of Education, Home Affairs, and other organs of government bears testimony of this unity of purpose.

“Community support remains extremely important in the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and acceptance of those addicted to substances. Let us help to break the stigma and promote fast recovery.”

According to the World Health Organisation’s mental health focal person, Debra Machando, 57 percent of mental health cases recorded in Zimbabwe are drug induced.

“Zimbabwe has the highest number of 15 to 19 year olds in Africa who engage in heavy episodic drinking …70,7 percent are males and 55,5 percent are females … the most affected group is 10-35 years which is 67,7 percent of the total population,” Machando told a recent anti-drug abuse campaign in Harare. – Daily News