The City of Cape Towns Draft Operational Alcohol and Drug Strategy was launched on 26June 2007, being International Drug Awareness Day.  Today we meet two vital components of the City’s strategy: (1) the announcement of Vodacoms partnership and sponsorship with the City relating to our first two outpatient treatment centres, and (2) the launch of the first of a series of booklets aimed at educating our communities who are so severely affected by the burden of alcohol and drug use, compiled by the City and sponsored by Vodacom.

Both of these initiatives fall squarely within ‘The City Cares’ programme (Community Awareness, Rehabilitation and Education Services) for Substance Abuse, which falls under the political leadership of the myself as the Executive Deputy Mayor of Cape Town.  Furthermore, and importantly, they are in line with the seven key principles contained in our strategy, specifically:

  1.  that the City will work with a range of stakeholders including the private sector,
  2. that since the burden of alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems is shared by the whole community, it is our joint responsibility to tackle this burden, and
  3. that our emphasis will be placed on evidence-based interventions.

An urgent, substantial and sustained response is required from all stakeholders within the City and other government spheres, the non-governmental sector including the private sector. The City therefore wishes too encourage more Companies to partner with the City in terms of this Strategy since their staff and their families are affected.  This has severe impacts on productivity, absenteeism, costs, income, service and bottom line.

There are many ways for Companies to partner with the City, including providing Matrix Programme vouchers for transport, food, toiletries, medical assistance and clothing, etc.  In doing so, companies will be helping the City address the barriers that exist for users getting access to specialist substance abuse treatment and will be helping incentivise users to stay in treatment for longer.

Within Objective 2 of this Operational Strategy, the City of Cape Town stated that it would strive to, inter alia,

  • Improve access to a range of evidence based treatment and prevention interventions
  • Develop capacity within the City for the provision of a range of services including screening for AOD use disorders, Brief Interventions (BI) for these disorders, and increase access to outpatient treatment services.
  • Addressing inequities in service delivery, including the dispersion, coverage, reach and quality of prevention and treatment services for AOD problems.

We committed ourselves to this in order to minimise AOD related harms among the citizens of Cape Town, particularly vulnerable people, such as youth, people affected by HIV/AIDS and TB, women (especially pregnant women), people who are unemployed, people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses, the elderly and people who are homeless.  The key principles to be highlighted here are that we would strive to minimise harms through early and appropriate interventions, meeting the person where he or she is and will minimise the barriers to treatment.

Today we proudly announce that Vodacom will be sponsoring 1000 urine tests, essential office equipment and a range of necessary repairs and maintenance projects at our first two Outpatient Treatment Centres, which will be opened early in 2008 at the City Health Clinics, in Tafelsig and Tableview.  These two sites have been chosen because they are located in underserved communities most affected by substance abuse. Tafelsig will serve Mitchells Plain, the broader cape flats and Khayelitsha while Tableview will serve the northern areas up to and including Atlantis.

Within Objective 3 of the Operational Strategy, the City stated that it would strive to, inter alia:

  • Improve access to information on AOD-related harms for the City community, and how communities can respond to these harms.
  • Initiate public education and other preventive initiatives in order to change community values, attitudes and norms around consumption of AOD.
  • Develop credible AOD information with consistent and innovative messaging for use in all City initiatives.
  • Ensure that the information provided is culturally appropriate and easily accessible to the citizens of Cape Town via relevant links to the City’s website and through libraries, City health facilities and other municipal outlets.

We committed ourselves to this in order to increase the publics understanding of the complexity of AOD problems and the nature of AOD use disorders, and to educate them on how to respond at an individual, family, religious institution and community level.  The key principles to be highlighted as being met today are the development and provision of accurate, credible, comprehensive and consistent information that is culturally appropriate and easily accessible.

Today we launch the HOPE series of booklets (Helping Our People Effectively), with the first aimed at the family.  The family is the cornerstone of a healthy, vibrant, stable society yet it experiences many of the harms of drug use and is therefore a vulnerable group that is not optimally equipped to deal with the challenges it faces in this regard, including the crises, the violence or loss (either of property and possessions or of their loved ones through them leaving home or even through fatal incidents).  This booklet educates many of our target groups – the parents of drug using children and visa versa, the grandparents and extended family members, many of whom are regularly affected.

The City has adopted the Matrix Model® of treatment and this booklet firmly underpins one of the fundamentals of the Matrix Model®, that being family education.  The Matrix® Intensive Outpatient Treatment experience involves delivering educational information, encouraging family participation, teaching relapse prevention skills and advocating self-help involvement.

Again within Objective 2 of the Operational Strategy, the City of Cape Town stated that the optimum intervention would be to identify a person (especially a young person) in the early stage, i.e. misuse, where cost effective Brief Interventions can be administered. This booklet is an early intervention tool aimed at helping families and users wherever they find themselves on the continuum of use (use, misuse, abuse or dependence).

This booklet will be distributed free of charge via the relevant link to the City’s website, City libraries, City health facilities and other municipal outlets, as well as Vodacom outlets.  It will be followed by: “HOPE for Young People” and “HOPE for Drug users.”

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