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Government launches conference on drug demand reduction



The Government has vowed to continue fighting the drug menace in the country.

The announcement was made when the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, officially launched the International Conference on Drug Demand Reduction.

The five-day Conference is a partnership between the Ministry of Interior, NACADA and the International Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals (ISSUP), a global, not-for-profit, NGO supporting the development of a professional prevention and treatment network.

The body also serves as a focal point for information about substance use, prevention and treatment.

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Speaking at the KICC, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, said the time for speeches is up and that the time to curb drug menace is now. “I want to ask you very sincerely, faced with the challenge such as we are in the case of drug trafficking and substance abuse, one thing that we must embrace is less talk; we need to act more,” he said.

To buttress the importance of the fight, the CS quoted figures showing that by 2017, 5.6 percent of the global population (translating to an approximate 275 million people) from ages 15 to 64, had used at least one drug in their lifetime.

Dr. Matiang’i said that locally, 18.2 percent of Kenyans had used some form of the drug with alcohol being the most dominant.

He added that surveys conducted by NACADA reveal that drug abuse is rampant in both our primary and secondary schools. “It’s a global tragedy, associated with all social evils including disease, corruption, violence, crime, breaking up families destroying young lives among others,” he said.

The CS gave an outline of what the Government is doing to combat the problem. He said that: Kenya has adopted a strategy that seeks to address both the supply and demand for drugs in conformity to the three international conventions on drug control; further, during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in April 2016, the Government declared its official position on access to controlled substances including narcotics; he recapitulated that Kenya will also be calling for enhanced international cooperation and increased allocation of resources for the campaign for a world free from trafficking and use of illicit and controlled drugs; he also spoke about the Government taking action against the production of drugs, through eradication, crop substitution and alternative development programmes.

“We are taking action against drug trafficking by increased cooperation between national police and customs authorities and by confiscating the assets of traffickers improving treatment and rehabilitation for the victims of drug abuse; working closely with both the international and local media, we can do more to deter, through advertising and publicity, on the lines of our own drug prevention publicity campaign,” he said.

Moreover, in November, the Government launched the Kenya Coast Service as one of the means to curb drug and human trafficking.

The CS also requested for support from the family unit and the community and reiterated the critical role they play in treatment and rehabilitation for those who have become dependent on drugs.

He thanked the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), African Union Commission, Colombo Plan, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) for their contribution to the hosting of this conference.

Also present at the conference was H.E Amb. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Dr. Gilberto Gerra, Dr. (Eng.) Karanja Kibicho, the Chairman and Board of Directors, NACADA.