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Central Region leads in alcoholism, drug abuse in Civil Service

An internal survey conducted by National Registration Bureau (NRB) to analyze the levels of alcoholism and drug abuse shows that the central region has the highest alcoholism rates in the civil service.

The findings show that 12 out of the 40 people identified during the survey were from the central region, while the remaining 28 cases were distributed amongst Eastern, Coast, North Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western regions.

According to NRB’s assistant director for quality assurance Mary Asura, who is also a member of the alcohol and drug management prevention committee, the survey revealed that 22.7 per cent of the bureau’s staff have used alcohol at least once in their lifetime. Further, 71.9 per cent did not know about Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA).

“The smaller numbers recorded in the other regions do not necessarily overrule the existence of ADA cases. There is a likelihood that more cases might come up as we continue to conduct the sensitization workshops among our staff,” she said.

Asura was speaking during the first ADA sensitization workshop organized by the National Registration Bureau and National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) for Nyeri and Murang’a counties.

The Director said that the two-day sensitization workshop was aimed at mainstreaming alcohol and drug abuse prevention and management mechanisms for the NRB staff.

It also focused on awareness creation on the treatment options available for those affected by the condition.

Asura also noted that the department was in the process of developing a policy to tackle ADA within the department in compliance with Public Service Performance Indicator 2022/2023.

“This sensitization forum is a preventive approach that was informed by our findings. Most of the staff do not know that alcoholism is a disease that should be treated like any other and one should not be victimized or disciplined on ADA issues, without undergoing the various stages of rehabilitation and counseling,” she said.

A study titled, Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Determinants Among Public Sector Employees in Kenya released by NACADA showed that 44.5 per cent of the public sector employees in Kenya had used alcohol at least once in their lifetime. It also showed that 32.2 per cent of the employees had used alcohol in the last one year, while 23.8 per cent were current alcohol users.

Conversely, a survey conducted on the general population showed that 30.2 per cent had used alcohol at least once in their lifetime, while 15.1 per cent had used alcohol in the last 12 months. From the survey, only 12.2 per cent were current alcohol users.

“The comparison revealed that the prevalence of alcohol use was higher in the public sector workplace compared to the general populations,” reads the report which was released in June this year.

On his part, the Central Region director in charge of NRB Kiragu Ndirangu attributed ADA cases in the workplace to family issues and poor management of stress from work related issues.

He also said that in addition to stagnating in one post for many years, some of the diagnosed cases had attributed their alcoholism to transfers from their work stations without consultation.

“We have made recommendations to the alcohol and drug management prevention committee that one is consulted before their transfer to a new duty station is effected because when you separate this person from their families most of them tend to engage in alcoholism,” said Ndirangu.

About 40 government employees from all the sub-counties are set to be sensitized during the exercise.

By Wangari Mwangi and Millicent Macharia

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