Hotline for anonymous drug tipsters — "When you see it, report it"
A hotline will be set up for the public to anonymously report tips about incidents involving illegal drugs in the territory, and Human and Social Services director Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona is urging students, youth, and everyone to use the service.
“When you see it, report it. Call the hotline, it is going to be anonymous,” Taeaoafua told the audience yesterday at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium, during the official launch of the week-long activities for the American Samoa Drug Control Commission (ASDCC), which is setting up the hotline.
“Report it. You never know, it might be a leader in your village, it might be your pastor, it might be your best friend, it might be someone that you know,” he said and urged students, including those in the audience from both public and private schools that if they don’t want to report incidents to school officials, use the hotline. “Pick up the phone, report it. We will never be able to catch them, if we don’t report who it is behind all of this.”
He reminded all sectors of the community in attendance that everyone needs to stand together and stand strong to fight the serious drug problem — spreading fast — faced by the territory, and not to be afraid. He added that the ASDCC can make a presentation at local schools, as part of the community effort of working together.
“Not one single person can do this [alone],” he said and offered a recommendation to everyone. “Don’t get on the blame game. Work together and we’ll find a solution.”
Taeaoafua, a member of the ASDCC, invites the community to attend tomorrow’s DHSS presentation on “Prevention of Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse” at the Su’igaula ole Atuvasa Beach Park, which is also the venue of presentations by four other government entities that are members of ASDCC.
Today’s presentation at Suigaula is “Prevent Youth Tobacco Use” by the Health Department; Thursday’s theme is “Prevent Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse” presented by LBJ Medical Center, and Friday’s theme is "Prevent Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana Use” — a joint presentation by Public Safety and the local Homeland Security.
In his keynote address, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga called for a united American Samoa in the fight against illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use by teenagers. He said this is not the first time the government has reached out to all sectors of the community for help, adding that the only way to find solutions is for everyone to work together.
He said the only solutions by the government is that laws are in place to deal with drug offenders, but that isn't enough — at this point — because there is a dire need for the full protection of the community, especially the children of American Samoa.
Lolo recalled a familiar phrase, “It takes a whole village to raise a child”, saying this is what his administration is working on, for the entire community to work together and it starts from the family level, then the village, districts, and the entire territory.
He said coalitions to prevent drug abuse have been established but it only brings in money while solid solutions must be found in order to combat illegal drugs and other social problems faced by American Samoa today.
The governor established, in August, the ASDCC which is tasked with specific goals, including reducing and eliminating the supply of illicit drugs; and reducing drug-related consequences, crimes, violence, and healthcare impacts.
Lolo said the ASDCC remains in affect unless it's rescinded by law or by a new administration taking office.
The governor has already declared Oct. 1- 6 as American Samoa Drug Control Launch Week under the theme, ‘American Samoa Be Wise, Prevention Saves Lives’.
He also proclaimed October 2017 as the start of the territory’s Comprehensive Drug Control Initiative, aimed to deter, prevent, and control substance and alcohol abuse which shall be administered and managed by the American Samoa Drug Control Commission with a membership comprised of religious, government and traditional leaders, businesses, community organizations, and all relevant stakeholders.
According to the governor’s proclamation, the government is investing $1 million to support programs that help with interdiction, prevention, rehabilitation and restoring a productive life for those afflicted with this disease. (See last Friday’s Samoa News edition for full details of the Proclamation.)
Under the now approved FY 2018 Budget’s Special Programs, overseen by the Governor’s Office, $1 million is allocated for the drug enforcement task force, which was established to identify and develop strategies with input from all parties involved in combating the serious drug problem on island.
These funds will finance the task force’s efforts through established outreach and drug control programs, according to the project description, which also states that the efficacy of any strategy is predicted on the involvement of the community and village oversight infrastructure.
“These funds will help develop these needed linkages from all facets of our community, businesses, and the American Samoa Government,” it says.