Pubdate: Wed, 18 Aug 2004
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Newspapers
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Youth)


President Kibaki's call for a more effective fight against alcoholism and 
drug abuse among youth could not have come at a better time.

As statistics released from a recent study indicated, a high proportion of 
our youth, especially students, have used, or are using alcohol and drugs. 
In fact, most have now graduated from traditional drugs such as bhang, to 
harder stuff.

In this category are drugs such as cocaine and heroin that are injected 
directly into the bloodstream, causing an instant "high" as the users call it.

It has also been claimed that Kenya has, over the years, become a major 
conduit for the international drug trade, and this is borne out by the huge 
drug seizures that have now become commonplace.

But even as the President calls for a fight against the scourge, the 
Government's commitment to this fight can only be said to be lukewarm.

The main body that is supposed to spearhead this fight, Nacada, based at 
the Office of the President, seems to have misread its mandate.

Apart from going round schools preaching the evils of alcohol and drugs, it 
is doing little else to keep youth away from drugs. The increasing use of 
these substances by students is clear testimony that it has failed miserably.

Many have blamed this failure on the people appointed to head this crucial 
agency, most of whom have not an inkling of what drugs are, how they work, 
and how they cause addiction.

In fact, the top brass at the agency are former provincial administrators 
who have frustrated the few professionals in the agency into quitting.

Alcoholism and drug abuse are complex issues that require a 
multi-disciplinary approach by an array of professionals, including 
pharmacists, doctors, psychologists, sociologists and psychiatrists.

By appointing administrators to fight this scourge, the Government is 
desperately trying to fix square pegs in round holes, a completely 
untenable situation.
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