Kenya still in search for substance abuse remedy

The government has rolled out guidelines to facilitate evidence driven treatment and rehabilitation of persons with Substance Use Disorders.

A partnership between the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), seeks to formulate standards to be used in the management of drug addiction in the Country.

This will ensure that affected persons have access to quality support services for their eventual psycho-social development and reintegration.

This is another intervention alongside the construction and equipping of drug rehabilitation centres, the latest being Miritini.

Speaking recently during the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDADA), Interior PS Dr. Karanja Kibicho reiterated the government’s commitment to operationalise the rehab.

 IDADA is marking its thirty third year since inception.

“The project, which is coordinated by NACADA was borne out of a Presidential Directive in 2015 and is currently providing a wide-range of both in and outpatient services to affected youth in the Coast
region,” said Dr. Kibicho.

He added that it is the plan of the government to make Miritini a center of excellence in the management of substance use disorders.

He called upon local and international partners to support the course which is estimated to cost Sh1.5 billion.

With this year’s theme ‘Share facts on drugs, save lives’ Dr. Kibicho recognized the need for factual information and knowledge on the effects of drugs abuse to enable people make informed decisions.

“The theme also underscores the importance of combating misinformation and myths that fuel irrational decisions and low uptake of available
care and support services,” he noted.

Dr. Kibicho said that across the globe, illicit drug trafficking and abuse remains a major challenge to the socio-economic development of States with global trends indicating an upward trend in the abuse of drugs and a shift from traditional substances to amphetamine-type stimulants, new psychotropic substances and synthetic cannabinoids.

According to the World Drug Report published by the UNODC in 2020, about 269 Million people, which translates to about 5.3 per cent of the global population aged 15–64 years, have used drugs at least once in their lifetime.

Out of these, 35.6 Million suffer from drug use disorders thereby, increasing the disease burden.

“In the local context, the figures are not pleasing with data from the National Survey conducted by NACADA in 2017, showing that alcohol is the most abused substance with 12.2% of persons aged 15 – 65 being
active users of alcohol.

This is followed by Tobacco with a prevalence rate of 8.3%, Miraa at 4.1% and Cannabis at 1.0%,” said Dr. Kibicho.

NACADA board of directors chairman, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, said the agency is coordinating the country’s multi-sectoral response to the challenge of alcohol and drug abuse and has designed programmes to promote healthy lifestyles.

“In reducing the demand for drugs, we have achieved much through the Positive Parenting Programme. This is a programme that targets parents and empowers them with knowledge on drugs and how to help an affected family member,” she said.

Prof Imbuga added that the Life Skills Programme, which has been piloted in over 84 primary schools has empowered young pupils with knowledge on alcohol and drugs.

It has also elicited good debate on drug use amongst pupils and teachers.

“On treatment, we pride ourselves in providing a conducive environment for addiction professionals to design and implement care and support
programmes for the affected across the country.

 NACADA has supported ten counties (Bomet, Kisii, Kwale, Mombasa, Nyeri, Kisumu, Kakamega, Taita Taveta, Nakuru and Lamu) in establishing county-based treatment and rehabilitation centres,” added Prof Imbuga.

She added that to further suppress the supply, NACADA will continue to work with other relevant Government Agencies to carry out enforcement
activities to suppress the supply of drugs and substances of abuse.

“We appreciate the support of the Parent Ministry in gazetting the National Alcohol Control Committee. This is a Committee that provides a platform for a whole gobvernment approach in addressing the many
challenges drug abuse,” she said.

Prof Imbuga further noted that through the intervention of the Parent Ministry and the Inter-Governmental Relations Technical Committee, NACADA is currently licensing import and export of alcoholic drinks thus, strengthening control measures in the alcohol industry.

She added that the Covid-19 pandemic has also worsened the drug situation in the country as we have witnessed increased incidences of drug abuse particularly in homes in the presence of children.

“We have also observed operations of bars where many clients are allowed to drink in closed bars in total disregard of the government guidelines.

We have also noted that there is an upsurge of online sale of substances which further exposes young people to the risk of drug use as there is ease of access,” she said.

PHOTO: Courtesy.

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