Kwale County Governor, Fatuma Achani, has said her Administration will intensify the fight against drug and substance abuse by youths and some adults in the region.
Achani contends that the social vice poses serious danger to the present and future generations, noting that only concerted and synergistic approach by all stakeholders could end the monstrosity of drug and substance abuse.
She said the devolved unit in conjunction with stakeholders will embark on awareness creation activities in the sub counties and electoral wards on the ills of drug abuse to check the menace in the region.
Achani noted that the prevalence of drug abuse and its negative impact on the society requires all ‘hands to be on deck to curtail the menace’.
She said that her administration was committed to the eradication of the scourge owing to its adverse effect on the society and expressed her readiness to make the coastal county free of drug abuse.
The Governor has admonished the local youths to desist from drugs and substance abuse because of the effect they have on users is detrimental to the growth of the society and the economy.
She explained that substance and drug abuse pose dangers of mental health problems and depression among other risks on the abusers.
Achani said this when addressing separately Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Kwale town under the banner ‘Kwale County Religious Advisory Council’ and promised to rope in the clerics in the fight against the social menace.
The discussion with the religious leaders was centered on prevention of drugs and substance abuse among the youths.
She tasked the religious leaders to continue promoting and preaching good moral values among the youth for peaceful co-existence of the society.
“Our religious leaders should continue instilling good moral values among the youth for a better society,” she said.
The Governor noted that it was imperative for the religious leaders to advise and admonish youths to desist from drug and substance abuse considering its increase in the society.
She said her Administration will be stepping-up the campaign against illicit drugs and other banned substances and called for the active participation of all stakeholders to realize ‘drug free Kwale’.
“Let us stand together shoulder to shoulder to fight this drug menace and enlist the support of all and sundry,” she said, noting that the future of the country rested on the youth, hence it was necessary for them to grow up with a sense of discipline.
The Governor also underscored the need for all stakeholders to come together and deal with drug addiction, which she said threatens to turn an entire generation of young people in the county into zombies.
”Many drug addicts are suffering from withdrawal symptoms like body malady, sickness and disorder due to prolonged drug use,” she said, adding that there was a need for concerted efforts to help the addicts who require substance abuse treatment to fully recover.
Achani has blamed the high rate of drugs and substance abuse in the coastal region for the rise in teen pregnancies, new HIV infections and Sexual and Gender Based Violence cases among young people.
She further added that the Kombani Methadone and Drug Rehabilitation Center has ensured those affected by drugs get treatment, which allows them to rejoin the community as rehabilitated people.
Achani disclosed that more than 700 recovering victims have received services from the Kombani Methadone Center, while some of them are receiving counseling and behavior therapy.
She asked the stakeholders to work with the various rehabilitation centres in the region to assist victims fighting to kick-off addiction.
“I’m glad that most of the affected persons have turned to Kombani Methadone Centre to help them take it one step at a time and keep them afloat on their path to sobriety,” she said.
The Governor said the devolved unit has resorted to Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT), where the drug addicts are given methadone (a powerful drug used for pain relief and treatment of drug addiction) as a substitute for heroin to pull them out of the addiction.
Methadone provides a feeling similar to that of heroin but keeps the addicts from having withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Kwale County Religious Advisory Council Chairman, Sheikh Hamisi Mwachirumu, noted that the interfaith forum would evolve proactive measures to address the drug menace.
Sheikh Mwachirumu stressed on the need for collaboration in the fight against the use of illicit drugs and their peddlers.
The cleric noted that while rehabilitation of drug addicts was important, combating its abuse and peddling was equally important to avoid substance abuse in the first place.
Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya (FPFK) Church, is targeting to train 200 faith leaders from all interfaith, including Kaya elders and schools, to sensitize the community on drug abuse issues.
The FPFK with support from International Aid Services (IAS DK), a partner from Denmark, is set to conduct a twelve-month pilot project targeting intervention measures on drugs and substance abuse, dubbed Faith Community against Drug Abuse (FACADA).
The FPFK delegation team included Pastor Esther Kamau, Bishop David Kiragu and Emmanuel Pendo, the FACADA project leader.
The Muslim and Christian clerics have asked the young people to desist from vices such as radicalization, crime and drug and substance abuse that have the potential to jeopardize their future.
Meanwhile, according to the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA), hundreds of youth are addicted to drugs in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties and that substance abuse continues to be a challenge for the authorities.
The anti-drug agency says the alarming rate of hard drug use among the youth in the region has assumed a worrisome dimension, despite persistent campaigns against the vice.
By Hussein Abdullahi