It is estimated that the number of drug users in sub-Sahara Africa that inject drugs has reached 1.78 million and an estimated 221,000 injecting drug users are living with HIV.

About 230 million people, or 5 per cent of the world?s adult population, are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010. Problem drug users number about 27 million, which is 0.6 per cent of the world adult population, it notes.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)  2012 World Drug Report launched last week indicates that the numbers of drug-related deaths in Africa average between 13,000 ? 41,000 per year.

According to the report, experts from African States who reported to the UNODC perceived a substantial increase in the use of all illicit drugs after 2005.

The report also shows that the most commonly used drug in Africa continues to be cannabis, followed by Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).

?The annual prevalence of cannabis use in Africa, particularly in West and Central Africa, is much higher than the global average,? it says.

The report notes that drug use appears to be spilling over into countries lying on trafficking routes, such as in West and Central Africa, which is witnessing increasing numbers of cocaine users.

?The increasing use of heroin and drug injecting is also emerging as an alarming trend, particularly in Eastern Africa,? it adds.

Throughout the world, the report says, illicit drug use appears to be generally stable, though it continues to be rising in several developing countries. Heroin, cocaine and other drugs kill around 0.2 million people each year, shattering families and bringing misery to thousands of other people.

?Illicit drugs undermine economic and social development and contribute to crime, instability, insecurity and the spread of HIV,? it says.

The report states that global opium production amounted to 7,000 tons in 2011. That is more than a fifth less than the peak of 2007 but an increase from the low level of 2010, the year in which a plant disease destroyed almost half of the opium harvest in Afghanistan, which continues to be the world?s biggest producer. The total area under coca bush cultivation in the world fell by 18 per cent between 2007 and 2010 and by 33 per cent since 2000.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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