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Concerned Zimbabwe’s Citizens Start an Anti-Drug Campaign

While that may help, when young people have finished playing, they still find themselves unemployed and in the same conditions

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Drugs, Africa
A street vendor sells illegal and false drugs in a street of Adjame in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. VOA

A group of concerned Zimbabweans has started an anti-alcohol and drug campaign, targeting communities in which unemployed young people resort to drinking and using narcotics to alleviate the stress of not having work. Those involved in the campaign say the solution lies largely with improving the country’s moribund economy.

Fewer than three in 10 young Zimbabweans have steady jobs. Many are idle and see no economic opportunity. For some, that leads to problems with alcohol and drugs.

Church leaders, community leaders, and government officials have started warning youths of the impact of drug and alcohol abuse in Zimbabwe and its effect on their physical wellbeing and mental health.

With drug use growing in Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has called for an all-stakeholders meeting on February 1 to come up with possible solutions.

Zimbabwe’s deputy director of Mental Health Services, Dr. Chido Rwafa, says the government cannot deal with the problem of substance abuse alone.

HIV, Drugs
More than half of the people surveyed who inject drugs said they avoided health-care services, citing discrimination or fear of law enforcement authorities.VOA

“Alcohol and substance use is a rising problem in all of Africa, and also in Zimbabwe, and it has become one of our top three diagnoses that we are seeing in our mental health unit, so it is becoming a problem. We need a coordinated approach to this problem. It is a multi-sectorial problem. We need a combined effort between government, between non-governmental organizations, with the community itself,” Rwafa said.

Youths are susceptible to peer pressure and can easily gain access to drugs, says Dr. Rwafa. Once hooked on drugs, they also become more likely to engage in criminal activities.

This 20-year-old asked us not to film him when he was smoking cannabis. He says drug use would fall if more people could find employment.

“The best way is just to improve our country economically such that all those people loitering in the streets will find jobs and will be focused. We are going nowhere. Even if you are to look (in the streets), there are some other people damaged (by drugs). Fifty percent of youths in the streets, they can not even work. Their life has been destructed by drugs etc. It is not that they want drug abuse,” Mandizha said.

drug
Young people with the Ngoma Yorira Theatre Association get ready for a performance at “Theatre in the Park” in Harare, Zimbabwe, as they campaign against drug abuse, Feb, 2, 2018. VOA

Roman Catholic Priest Cloudy Maganga is trying to reduce substance abuse by youths by keeping them busy and offering counseling.

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“Within our hall, upstairs we are creating what we call a study center for the young people. We will have computers… We have also started what we call the sports for the young people. We have created a volleyball pitch, we have created also a netball pitch for the young people so that when they are free, during their free time, they can be engaged in sports, everyone here. So at least with that we are removing them from being just idle,” Maganga said.

While that may help, when young people have finished playing, they still find themselves unemployed and in the same conditions youths like Takudzwa Mandizha say make them turn to drugs. (VOA)

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Drug that Helps Regulate Bone Development to Boost Growth Rates of Children with Dwarfism on Global Trial

The drug, vosoritide, was generally well tolerated by patients

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Drug, Children, Dwarfism
Right now, the results of the study show an impact on growth, and this effect is sustained, at least over nearly four years in this trial. Pixabay

 A drug that helps regulate bone development has been found to boost growth rates in children with achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism, in a global trial.

The patients’ average boost in height to about 6 cm (2.4 inches) per year was close to growth rates among children of average stature, and the side effects of the drug were mostly mild, said study co-author Julie Hoover, Associate Professor at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University.

“Right now, the results of the study show an impact on growth, and this effect is sustained, at least over nearly four years in this trial,” Hoover said.

Results of the phase-2 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the drug, vosoritide, was generally well tolerated by patients.

Drug, Children, Dwarfism
A drug that helps regulate bone development has been found to boost growth rates in children. Pixabay

On average, participants in the trial grew at a 50 per cent faster compared to baseline with no adverse effects on body proportion, the results showed.

Achondroplasia is caused by over-activity of a signal that stops growth, and could be likened to overwatering a plant, said lead author Ravi Savarirayan, Professor at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia.

“This drug basically kinks the hose so that the plant gets the right amount of water and can resume regular growth,” Savarirayan said.

Achondroplasia is a genetic bone disorder affecting about one in every 25,000 infants.

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It is caused by a mutation in the FGFR3 gene that impairs the growth of bones in the limbs, the spine, and base of the skull.

The most common health complications experienced by children with achondroplasia are spinal cord compression, spinal curvature and bowed legs. About half of these children will need spinal or other surgery.

Unlike other treatments – such as growth hormone and limb-lengthening surgery – that focus on symptoms, vosoritide focuses on the underlying cause of achondroplasia and directly counteracts the effect of the mutation that slows growth.

Drug, Children, Dwarfism
The patients’ average boost in height to about 6 cm (2.4 inches) per year was close to growth rates among children of average stature. Pixabay

The study ran over four years across research centres in Australia, France, Britain and the US with 35 children assigned to one of four groups receiving daily subcutaneous doses of the drug in increasing amounts.

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The results showed vosoritide demonstrated dose-dependent increases in centimetres grown per year during the first six months, with improvements maintained over the study extension period of a further three years. (IANS)