Pubdate: Mon, 29 Mar 2004
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Newspapers



Findings of a national survey on drug and substance abuse released last 
Friday provide an eye opener for the Government and the public. Though it 
has been common knowledge that the use of hard drugs like cocaine and 
heroin has been on the rise - especially among the youth - there have been 
little reliable documentary evidence.

Among the evidence was the preliminary report on the first national survey 
by the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse published last year.

Quite often, we blame the rampant riots in schools and colleges on 
substance abuse while doing nothing to establish the extent.

When, for example, 68 students perished in the infamous 2001 Kyanguli fire 
tragedy after colleagues torched a dormitory, drug abuse dominated 
newspaper headlines only to die down and be swept under the carpet soon 

Despite all the information on drug abuse, the ministries of Health and 
Education - which are well placed to tackle the menace - have opted for a 
wait-and-see approach which results in ad hoc reactions whenever crises 
spring up. Indeed, there are hardly any rehabilitation centres for those 
wishing to end substance abuse.

The authorities stand accused for this inertia. One would recall how the 
fight against disasters like Aids has proved costly because of leaving it 
too late.

We, therefore, ask the Government to use the survey's recommendations to 
mount a thorough campaign to eliminate drug abuse. As of now, the youth's 
tendency to sacrifice indigenous societal beliefs at the altar of foreign 
influences would do irreparable damage.

More importantly, we must decide whether to continue promoting alcohol and 
tobacco use to raise our tax income or check them and save our generations 
from their adverse effects.

Our policy of legalising indigenous alcoholic drinks while declaring 
illegal the production and use of "premium" alcoholic drinks, must be 
scrutinised, too.
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