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Psychiatric expert has bleak outlook on fight against drugs

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 26/06/2020

The Head of the Psychiatric Ward at Vaiola Hospital has a grim warning for the country, saying Tonga is a long way behind in the fight against drugs and it may be too late to eliminate this problem. Dr. Mapa Puloka says the rise of drug related crimes is evident that the problem is continuing to grow with more drugs found in the communities.

Dr. Mapa Puloka says drug abuse may become the new norm for crime in Tonga and will continue to impact the lives of the Tongan people.

He adds there is also an increase in the number of patients admitted to the psychiatric ward at Hu’atolitoli Prison for drug related issues. There is also a significant increase in the number of crimes reported by Police but they lack proper and sufficient resources and Dr. Puloka believes there will be more and more cases of drug related crimes and possibly more violent crimes caused by drug abuse as a new reality for Tonga.

The Salvation Army Tonga who run a drug and alcohol abuse rehab Centre say that they’ve seen an increase in the number of drug and alcohol abuse victims seeking assistance at their Centre.

They are increasing their awareness campaigns – creating a new weekly program for teenagers aimed at educating them about the effects of drugs, and encouraging them to make better life choices when it comes to drugs. And despite the challenge of dealing with drug addicts with limited resources, the Centre is still committed to its mission of assisting drug and alcohol abuse victims reclaim their lives back.

The Police Drug Enforcement Taskforce have made 574 arrests since it was established in 2018, to step-up the polices efforts in the battle against drugs in the country.

In Parliament the Police Minister – Lord Nuku had told MPs that the next big issue affecting the country after coronavirus was drug abuse and it is the police were committed to the fight against drugs, to minimize its negative impact on the country.

A former Police Minister – Clive Edwards expressed his support for the polices operations against drugs, saying there was still hope for the country with the police stepping up their operations against the illegal importation, and distribution of drugs in the country.

© Radio and Television Tonga News