, LIMURU, Kenya, Aug 9 – The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADA) is asking the government to focus on suppressing the supply of drugs by securing the country’s exit and entry points.
National Coordinator Jennifer Kimani has also proposed that the government provides cheap treatment and rehabilitation facilities for those with drug addictions to help them cope and get out of the habit.
She said the country ought to pay as much attention to drug abuse as it did to HIV/AIDS as the country’s future prosperity was at stake.
“We need to strengthen this country’s control systems because we have realised that the supply and demand of drugs in Kenya is rising. The ministries of Internal Security and Health need to work together to fight this thing because it is getting more serious than HIV,” she argued adding that most of those addicted to drugs were young people.
Mrs Kimani who was speaking during the opening ceremony of a four day training workshop for women on managing and preventing drug abuse added that NACADA would continue educating the masses on the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization Chairperson Rukia Subow who was also present lauded the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill that was recently passed by Parliament saying it would bring sanity to the Kenyan brews market.
Ms Subow also reiterated that substance abuse, if not checked, would become a hindrance to the country’s long term development plan.
“Young men from my home town chew mosquito coils with miraa so as to get high. Others drink and their lives just go to waste. If we want to achieve our Vision 2030 and Millennium Development Goals, we will need everyone’s input; we cannot mix HIV, drugs and our vision,” she said.
She also expressed concern over the increasing number of girls and women who were engaging in alcoholism: “Drugs are not a joke and we need to figure out how to reduce the demand because if there is no demand, then there will be no supply and no drug abuse.”
In his speech, Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia said most Kenyans in their prime age were getting wasted by substance abuse. He said that his ministry had set a target of reducing drug abuse incidences by 40 percent in 100 days.
“The government is worried that alcohol and drugs will impede this country’s development because most of those addicted to drugs are very young. By the time they get to their 30s, they cannot do anything productive for this country,” he said.
He also made reference to the most recent incidences where alcohol poisoning took people’s lives. “In April 12 people died in Shauri Moyo Estate, in July five people died in Donholm estate, another five in Thindigua village in Kiambu and 20 others in Kibera,” he noted.
Further, Mr Kimemia observed that his ministry had so far arrested 18 suspected drug traffickers including two Ugandan nationals who were possessing cocaine worth over Sh18 million at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in June.
He added that 46 sachets of heroin, 23 of cocaine and 2,000 kilograms of bhang had also been separately confiscated by his ministry with over 350,000 litres of Chang’aa, one million litres of kang’ara and 210 litres of busaa destroyed.
A recent study by NACADA indicated that 17 percent of children in the coast region had consumed alcohol and other drugs while 12 percent were currently abusing the drugs.