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Seychelles Counters Heroin Threat

For a small island State such as Seychelles, where tourism is the pillar of its economy and any challenge becomes a tourism industry problem, heroin abuse may pose a threat to its tourism industry.

It is with this in mind that the Saint Ange Tourism Report requested a meeting with Dr Patrick Herminie, the Special Secretariat looking at drug addiction in Seychelles, to help the local tourism industry to better appreciate the situation on hand and to ascertain what is being done.

Dr Patrick Herminie admitted that despite the many great strides being taken in the tourism sector, heroin addiction is a new threat that has emerged, which may well dent tourism development in Seychelles. Today, the country is faced with an unprecedented epidemic of heroin abuse. It is estimated that 4 to 5 thousand youths are addicted to the drug. This is probably one of the highest use of heroin per capita in the world given our small population of 90 thousand.

Faced with this stark reality, the Government has entrusted Dr Patrick Herminie with the daunting task of masterminding and coordinating a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral program with a view to effectively contain the epidemic. Drug addiction is now considered to be a chronic disease, which must be effectively treated.

Dr Herminie is adamant that unless more is invested in treatment and rehabilitation, the war on drugs will miserably fail and Seychelles will become a “dope fiend’s paradise”. Although our national drug strategy has always been comprised of supply reduction and demand reduction, for the first time this year, a significant portion of funds allotted to drug control (SRC50 million) was dedicated to treatment and rehabilitation.

Faced with stiff resistance from Parliament, the Dr, Herminie articulated his case and managed to convince all members to invest in new resources, both human and physical, including a brand new and modern rehabilitation centre at Cap Ternay, with the aim of reducing the reliance on heroin.

Tourists and locals alike are frequently robbed by drug addicts looking for their next “fix”, or by young individuals looking to make a quick buck instead of making an honest living. Following the inception of an Agency for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation in August 2017, Dr Herminie feels that crime rates will continue to decline as the demand for heroin is lessened. This is promising news for Seychelles and for its fragile tourism industry.

The above story has been published with acknowledgement to the Saint Ange Tourism Report 30th edition dated 31 December 2017.

Read more on this topic: Drug Tourism versus War On Drugs

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