YouthNet and Counselling Organisation (Yoneco) programmes support manager Hughies Munthali says drug and alcohol abuse among youths puts them at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
He expressed the concern on Wednesday in Mangochi when the organisation facilitated the formation of a committee to enforce the Liquor Act and by-laws on drug and alcohol in the district.
The Act restricts children below 18 from consuming alcohol or patronising drinking joints.
“When the youth are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may fail to use contraceptives
thereby putting their lives at risk of contracting HIV,” said Munthali.
He, therefore, said the committee will meet bar owners to ensure adherence to the Act and the by-laws to protect youths from accessing alcohol.
Senior Chief Chowe advised the committee to find lasting solutions to reduce drug and alcohol abuse in the district.
“Mangochi is a predominantly Muslim district which discourages alcohol and drug consumption, but we know more Muslim youths are abusing alcohol,” he said.
Norwegian Church Aid and Dan Church Aid Joint Programme gender thematic area programme officer, Lawrence Ching’oma said they are supporting the initiative to protect youths from drug and alcohol abuse.
He said: “We have the obligation to address the challenges facing the youth and one of them is drug and substance abuse.
“We are doing drug and alcohol abuse prevention advocacy while linking issues of drug and alcohol abuse to gender-based violence and HIV and Aids issues.”
Yoneco is implementing Empowering Young People to Fight Drug and Alcohol Abuse Project in Mangochi with funding from the Norwegian Church Aid and Dan Church Aid Joint Country Programme.n