Reducing the burden of Substance Use Disorders through effective interventions

Addiction among female sex workers

According to Yeo et al. ( 2022), South Africa has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption, where female sex workers have “a greater likelihood of a past year diagnosis of substance use disorder compared to women who do not sell sex.” Substance use has been used as a coping strategy, often masking underlying mental health conditions. The article also suggested that the prevalence of substance use among female sex workers indicates a lack of awareness accompanied by an absence of effective interventions. For this reason, it is essential to ensure that a  healthcare workforce is competent and cross-educated to help address the growing prevalence of substance use disorders.

Felix Emeka Anyiam is a data science practitioner, a trained Research Scientist, an Epidemiologist, and Biostatistician at the Centre for Health and Development (CHD). As a primary Research and Data Scientist for the Centre, his daily job entails solving social and urban problems by improving the response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other related healthcare challenges vital to the Niger Delta region in Nigeria. He is an Editorial Board Member for PLOS ONE and a peer reviewer for Taylor & Francis and F1000Research Publishers, where he has collaborated on several peer-reviewed publications. Felix is also part of the alumnus Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) Data Schools and has volunteered his time as a coordinator of the Early Career Data Professionals activities. He is also an Educational Fellow at The Addiction Training for Health Professionals (ATHP) program.


As a Ph.D. candidate, Felix recognizes that addiction plays a role in the lives of sex workers and intends to link this in his research. Felix believes that his work with ATHP could make a real difference by influencing and informing public health policy related to addiction. He noted that we have a moral responsibility to “maintain public health in the hard-to-reach places” and “ensure that everyone has access to healthy living conditions.” He agrees that ATHP could help “lay the groundwork to better evaluate, plan and implement effective strategies to manage substance use disorders, “ allowing physicians and other health professionals to devise more adaptable and effective interventions to help address this issue of public concern.

ATHP recognizes that tobacco addiction and other substance use disorders significantly threaten public health. Therefore, the priority is to prepare healthcare professionals to adequately screen, diagnose and treat patients with substance use disorders through free courses addressing addiction and mental health concerns.


Yeo, E. J., Hlongwane, K., Otwombe, K., Hopkins, K. L., Variava, E., Martinson, N., Strathdee, S. A., Coetzee, J., & Milovanovic, M. (2022a). Key risk factors for substance use among female sex workers in Soweto and Klerksdorp, South Africa: A cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE, 17(1), e0261855.

Reisha Narine, MSc, BSc

Reisha Narine, MSc, BSc


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