Afghanistan stares at health crisis with 1 million female drug addicts, 100,000 children hooked


NEW DELHI, March 13: Afghanistan is staring at a massive public health crisis with more than three million drug addicts, a million of whom are women and 100,000 of whom are children below 10 years of age, reported the country’s Tolo News.
In fact, the total number of those addicted in the war-ravaged country could be a lot higher than three million, because when that number was calculated last year, public health officials had no idea that so many women were also hooked.
As it is, Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of poppy opium, which is used to make heroin. And far from its production declining, the UN says that opium production in the country actually rose 87% in 2017 from 2016. The increase is attributed to a rapid expansion of territory used to cultivate poppy, no thanks to the Taliban which profits from the crop and encourages its cultivation.
The women in the country more often than not pick up the habit from the men in their families. Several women told Tolo News they turned to drugs as their husbands were addicts.
“I took on drug as my husband was using at home,” said Naznin, an Afghan woman who didn’t give her last name.
In fact, Reuters news agency reported in 2012 that Afghanistan’s female narcotics problem had begun to fill the country’s largest women’s prison, Badam Bagh or “Almond Orchard”, on the outskirts of Kabul.
At the time, of its 164 inmates, 64 were opium and heroin users, double what it was when the clinic started in 2008, according to clinic doctor, Hanifa Amiri, who spoke to Reuters then. That number would have likely skyrocketed by now.
Currently, there are a mere 20 drug rehabilitation centres across the country that treat women and children.
“Bringing us here (to rehabilitation centres) will not have results. When we leave here, again we will turn to drug as long as there are smugglers (and dealers). They should be stopped. It is the reality,” said an Afghan woman Marwa Musavi to Tolo News. (Courtesy: TOI)