Nifiloli chief welcomes MHMS move on Copen


The chief of Nifiloli island of the Vaeakau district, Temotu province, has welcomed the ministry of Health’s (MHMS) move to tackle the new drug – Copen.

Copen has reached the furthest parts of eastern Solomon Islands.

Edward Makiu says Copen is the latest threat to children and youths in his community, after it was introduced earlier this year by youths travelling there from Honiara.

Mr Makiu urges the MHMS and government to quickly make the substance illegal.

The importance of lawmakers making Copen illegal is it would enable community leaders and school admins to regulate the substance in their communities and schools, he adds.

“Copen usage has reached our isolated communities in the east of the country, and earlier this year community elders held a meeting to try and curtail its usage among young people.

“There are already a lot of factors challenging our youth’s education, health and welfare, and Copen is adding to our problems, so it is heartening to see government through the MHMS acting on it.”

Makiu said what his community wants is for the substance to be made illegal by any legislation made in parliament, and MHMS’s announcement means a step closer to achieving this.

With chief Makiu’s report, Copen is now reported throughout the whole country, with the exception of Makira-Ulawa province.

In October Premier of Makira-Ulawa Hon Julian Makaa relayed to Island Sun not having heard of the substance’s presence in his province. However, he did not rule out the possibility of it being otherwise.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Dr Culwick Togamana told parliament that his ministry will take Copen head-on.

“The Ministry of Health will like to investigate further and we need to work closely with the RSPIF attain some samples of copen to do lab analysis.

“If we get hold of this substance, we can send it overseas for testing of chemical constitutes.”

Togamana also said the issue of Copen will also be included in the Solomon Islands school health survey to gauge more information.

The Health minister also mentioned the intent to resource the national laboratory to enable it to test Copen in the near future.

Copen is a substance which is yet to be recognised by the country’s law as a drug, or as an illegal one.

But already it is reportedly affecting users which are mainly students, primary and secondary.

It is reportedly most prevalent in the capital, Honiara, followed by Renbel and Choiseul province.

Prior to MHMS taking up the Copen issue, the approach by authority was to leave it to be dealt with on the community and parent level.

However, this approach has failed, with many parents and school teachers reporting that Copen production and usage is rife in their communities.

Copen is reportedly made using tobacco leaves and household items. The availability of these ingredients makes it easy to produce, leading to its high prevalence in communities across the country.

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