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NACADA raises alarm over drug abuse in schools

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29- The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) on Tuesday revealed that western province is leading in drug abuse in schools with a prevalence rate of 43.3 percent followed by Nairobi with 40.9 percent.

National Coordinator, Aggrey Busena said that the report indicated the crucial role parents played in controlling drug and substance abuse noting that 15 percent of parents in Nairobi stocked alcoholic beverages in their homes.

Mr Busena who was speaking during the opening of a workshop on drug abuse further argued that such tendencies increased the probability of children picking up alcohol abuse at an early age.

“In Rift Valley there is also a major problem because you find that they even have merry-go-rounds for alcohol so that they prepare the beverage in their homes in turns. So you are assured that you will get free alcohol in at least half of the 365 days of the year,” he quipped.

NACADA Board Chairman Frank Njenga also noted that although the prevalence rate of substance abuse at the coast province had declined, the numbers remained high.

He said that the government should create jobs for the youth in the region in order to fight the menace.

“The majority of drug users in the province do so opportunistically because as they told us ‘we don’t have jobs. If you give something that is less boring than doing nothing we wouldn’t need to take drugs’,” he said. 

Dr Njenga also asked the government to implement the controversial needle substitution strategy for intravenous drug users as a means of fighting HIV/AIDS. Through this method, such drug users will get free and clean syringes from public health institutions with which to administer the drugs.

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He argued that it would also help the government track drug users so as to control the supply chain.

The strategy has however been criticised by various religious groupings which argue that the move will encourage other Kenyans to take up the habit.

“This method will ensure that when they inject themselves, at the very least, they use a safe needle; meaning that yes you have not dealt with the problem of drug abuse but you have dealt with the problem of the spread of HIV,” he said.

Also present was World Health Organisation representative Joyce Nato who noted that 200 million people died annually out of complications of alcohol abuse. She said it was vital for all nations worldwide to come up with a strategy that would control drug abuse at the national and global levels.

“Seventy five percent of these people come from developing countries,” she said.

The officials also noted that there was a great need for Kenya to increase public rehabilitation centres in the country. At the moment only two are government owned against a backdrop of 40 plus that are private.

Mr Busena added that gathering evidence that was strong enough to hold drug cartels to account remained a challenge in the country.

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