Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill [B12-2008]: Department of Social Development and Central Drug Authority briefings

Social Development

06 May 2008
Chairperson: Adv M Masutha (ANC), followed by Ms I Direko (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed on the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill by the Department of Social Development and the Central Drug Authority. The financial implications and object of the Bill was explained as a background to the planned and existing programmes around treatment and prevention that the Department hoped to undertake. The Department hoped to establish community-based services that would include prevention, early intervention treatment services and life skills programmes in co-operation with other departments.  The status and location of aftercare and reintegration facilities was also discussed with a view to establish accredited programmes.

The Committee requested progress reports from the Department regarding implementation, and questioned whether monitoring was planned and how this would be done. The costing level was discussed and the Department was questioned about the relationship between supply and demand and the control of drug peddling. There was some debate around the issue of language and the committee was informed that the Bill would be translated into Setswana but other languages were being investigated. 

The Central Drug Authority briefed the Committee on the drug problem in South Africa, its mandate, and achievements and the special problems around Methamphetamine (TIK). The drug problem in South Africa was a serious one as the country had the highest rates in the world for substance abuse. A new definition was provided for addiction, with a more behavioural slant. A figure of 235 777 of drug users in the country was provided as the highest in the world. However this count was based only on people who had at some stage sought treatment. The alcohol problem was also raised as a serious concern as alcohol consumption was on the increase amongst children and very young adults.

The mandate of the Authority was outlined indicating its powers and functions and the requirements for the effective implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP). The typical strategic implications for supply, demand and harm reduction were presented with view to developing key strategies.

Facts about the methods of use and long and short term signs of abuse of tik were mentioned. The Committee was horrified to hear about ARV drugs being used in an abusive manner. The Committee debated extensively about the high rates of drug and alcohol abuse in South Africa especially among children and very young adults. They felt that greater parental involvement was required to stem the tide of substance abuse. The lack of statistics for rural areas was raised as a matter of concern and the Department pledged to look into this problem. The Deputy Minister of Social Development encouraged the use of the internet for research around substance abuse as she felt that drug abuse and the market followed similar patterns of development. She stated that drug abuse should be viewed as a global problem that was not specific to South Africa. The Committee requested deeper research especially in the Northern Cape around substance abuse.

Meeting report

Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill (the Bill): Department of Social Development (DSD) briefing.
The Deputy Minister and representatives from the Department of Social Development and the Central Drug Authority were welcomed to the meeting.

Ms Nomathemba Kela, Chief Director: Social Worker Services Transformation, Department of Social Development, explained that she would only be presenting an overview of Bill. The main objective of the Bill was to create mechanisms to approach substance abuse in a co-coordinated manner, with a key focus on prevention services and programmes. She stated that there was a lack of outreach programmes and a clear need to change this situation.

Ms Kela explained the situation regarding disciplinary procedures in facilities, stating that there was a thin line between maintaining discipline and the question of treatment at centres.
The Committee was sensitised to matters concerning community-based services and traditional leaders (see attached document).

Ms M Gumede (ANC) asked if the Department would be providing progress reports.

Ms J Semple (DA) stated that three levels of costings were provided on page four of the presentation, and on page five, yet Members were not told on what the costing were based.

The Chairperson asked what the relationship was between demand and supply regarding the issue of the criminalisation element and control of peddling and proliferation of drugs. He questioned whether the Bill had anything to do with these matters.

Ms Semple also asked which term should be used to define and view people who used substances.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) questioned where the onus rested regarding implementation. She also asked how the budget would be spent and expressed the need to grapple with situations where crimes were committed.

Ms H Weber (DA) asked whether there was a necessity for the Committee to announce itself when undertaking oversight work.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC) stated that there was an inconsistency in the language used and asked what the other language of the Bill was going to be.

Mr Puseletso Leselo, Chief Director: Legal Services, DSD,  responded that it  was decided that the Bill would be translated into Setswana and the undertaking was that by the end of May, 2008, the translation would be finalised. The Department was also looking at other more accessible languages.

Ms Kela replied that the legislation provided for the registration of facilities and the procedure was that once a facility was registered, certain conditions were placed on it, including inspections by the department. She stated that with regard to the financial implications, scenario three, which was aggressive implementation, was used.

Ms Kela agreed that the definition and consistency of language had to be looked at more closely, and that this could only be responded to in terms of out-patients as they would be the service users.

Mr P Leselo stated that this Bill did not deal with the suppliers of drugs, and that there was an International Convention on Drug Trafficking and national legislation on drug trafficking to address these issues.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department had applied its mind to the current regulatory framework dealing with the prevention of the proliferation of drugs and to the synergy between the demand and supply of drugs.

Ms Dudley stated that the Bill did not tie anybody in to implementation. She asked whether there were any time frames for monitoring and whether such monitoring would be taking place. 

Mr David Bayever, Deputy Chair:Central Drug Authority, explained that the Central Drug Authority (CDA) had prepared a presentation to cover all areas, including the mandate of the CDA, and this would be explained in full to address concerns that were raised.

Ms Kela responded to the questions on funding, stating that the Department was more likely to obtain funding for implementation in provinces if the legislation provided for services. Once the legislation was approved National Treasury would be more inclined to approve funding. The Department was working with provinces to establish priorities and had asked provinces to submit business plans to the appropriate provincial treasury.

The Chairperson asked how often provinces were visited and if there was coordination between spheres regarding funding.

Ms Kela explained that provincial co-ordinators’ meetings were hosted for different programmes to assess progress.

Ms Kela finally stated that the legislation made provision for voluntary service users who were displaying symptoms, and these people could be admitted for treatment if they provided an affadavit.

Central Drug Authority (CDA) Briefing on the role of the CDA and the Drug Problem in  South Africa
Dr Ray Eberlein, Member: CDA explained the brief of the CDA and nature and extent of the drug problem in South Africa. He also provided information on a comparative study between South Africa and the rest of the world regarding the drug problem. The CDA had used concepts and world studies to develop an integrated master plan, the NDMP (The National Drug Master Plan) to combat supply, reduce demand and attempt to tackle harm reduction. (see attached document for details)

Mr David Bayever, Deputy Chair: CDA stated that the NDMP was a blueprint for the whole country. The CDA was able to advise and had given notice to play this role. He explained that the CDA functioned as a sub-directorate of another directorate in the DSD. The CDA has to give effect to the NDMP. Through effective co-ordination the CDA was able to deal with all aspects of drug abuse. Mr Bayever further stated that there was a need to have local government representation. He proposed that the Committee should nominate members be involved on a full time basis.

Dr Ray Eberlein, emphasised that the CDA operated using a results oriented approach. He expressed concern regarding the fact that results were not being measured and hence there was a lack of knowledge regarding the impact of their work. He stated that the CDA was an authority in name only. Further representations were contained in the attached document

The Chairperson reminded Members of the Portfolio Committee  of the recommendations of the Committee arising from the budget vote 17 of 2007. These included that the Department was:
- encouraged to put more resources into the setting up of an intervention strategy;
- to work in consultation with the Department of Education;
- to work on fostering synergies between departments;
- to increase research capacity for providers;
- to consolidate, in order that the Department could play its role effectively;
- to ensure that it played a role in monitoring and evaluation; and
- to consolidate fiscal arrangements to allow provinces to enjoy provincial policies aligned with the national strategy.

Ms Direko took over the chair:

Central Drug Authority Briefing on Methamphetamine (TIK)
Mr Bayever stated that the misuse of Methampehtamine, commonly known as TIK, was no longer a problem limited to the Western Cape, as the usage of this drug had increased in other provinces as well. He explained that oral usage, snorting or inhaling of fumes caused blood vessels to close down and sores to develop. More important was the damage to the brain as it was not capable of regenerating cells.  He stated that TIK interfered with the normal reward system provided by dopamine, which was needed to strengthen all actions to solve problems. A serious point of concern was that HIV and Aids antiretroviral drugs (ARV drugs) were now being inhaled, snorted and sold, and he provided details in the attached document.

Ms Kela explained the importance of statistics covering people who presented themselves for treatment. However she felt that other forms of addictive substances used by the rural communities, like petrol and glue, were not being monitored. More research was needed regarding less sophisticated drugs being used in rural areas.

Ms Gumede believed that deeper research was needed, especially in Northern Cape.

Ms Semple asked if there were reasons why South Africa had such high figures compared to the rest of the world,  and expressed concern about the new misuse of ARV drugs. She also enquired about reading materials that would provide information in laymen’s terms.

Ms Weber asked about the problems of glue sniffing in Mpumalanga and if anything was being done about this. 

Mr Bayever said that there was a necessity for people to be selective about what they were reading, as some of the reading materials did not have a scientific basis, and it was essential to give out the correct information.

Ms Kela stated that the Department has developed cards to provide information to everyone about drugs, and that these were targeted especially to parents.

Mr Bayever said that the reason that South African use was high was that it was targeted by cartels, because of its sophisticated roads and other systems that were equivalent to the best in other parts of the world. While it was initially a trader route for other parts of the world, South Africa had now also become a market for trafficking. This could present problems for the 2010 World Cup and all governments had to be of similar mind regarding the aftermath of this event.

In regard to the comments on glue sniffing, Mr Bayever stated that  certain manufacturers had changed their formulations and removed substances that produced a ‘high’ when glue was sniffed.

Ms Jean Benjamin, Deputy Minister of Social Development, stated that she found the internet a very useful source when researchers had not given sufficient information. She added further that the problem should be viewed in an international context . For example, methamphetamine was seen as a problem in every country, and South Africa was no different from the  rest of world. It was possible to look at what other governments were doing from an expert’s point of view. Drug abuse and the market followed the same patterns of development all over the world and South Africa needed to do more in terms of prevention.

Mr Bayever noted that the side effects of ARV drugs were psychological and influenced the  brain directly, so that they were not metabolised by the rest of body. It had been found that now with ARV drugs a market was available to generate an income.

Ms Direko asked what the ‘Red Powder’ was that was included in the ingredients for certain drugs.

Mr Bayever explained that one of the active ingredients in ‘Red Powder’ in TIK was red phosphorous, which acted as an opiate. If all other ingredients in products were boiled off, it was possible to access the opiate. Manufacturers of products were not to be blamed but rather the blame must lie on what society was doing with otherwise legal products.

Ms Direko asked it was that a statutory body like the CDA could have no enforcement power.

Mr Bayever explained that the size of the problem was great and thus much more needed to be done to make an impact. He stated further that it was important to look at the CDA’s alignment as a sub-directorate within a directorate. Efforts needed to be intensified with a view to more meaningful control mechanisms being put in place, to focus on this problem. The Department needed to look again at its structure to empower itself to address the mandate given by government.

The meeting was adjourned.

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