The use of illegal drug copen is now widespread amongst children in both secondary and primary schools here.
Minister of Health and Medical Services Dr Culwick Togamana revealed this today when answering a question in Parliament on the use of the drug and and what is the government doing about it?
Dr. Togamana said his ministry is equally concerned because of the use of the drug or substance has now extended to children attending primary and secondary schools and it is a major concern.
He confirmed that the locally made drug is widely illegally used and the ministry responsible has expressed concerns on its harmfulness to the children.
What is copen?
According to Togamana, based on information his ministry has received copen is a local drug made of toothpaste, lime and tobacco and the producers use some form of heating to form a paste. Users placed it under the tongue or in the mouth and after sometime it produces a sensation feeling.
Togamana said these substances (toothpaste, tobacco and lime) are harmful and they could harm the health of the children, the future leaders of the country.
“Our concern is the substance is now sold at hotspots in Honiara to our children— where they are manufactured,” he said.
What the government is doing?
Togamana said they need to work closely with RSIPF to get some samples of copen and do lab testing on it.
He said because of the lack of capacity in the country that has to be sent overseas for testing.
Also, he said his ministry and other ministries have to collect data on copen especially on its illegal use at schools.
He said a survey will be done next year to give health authorities the extent of copen use at the schools so that strategies can be taken to address the matter.
Fouty schools will be randomly selected in the country for the survey.