Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jul 2011
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2011 Nation Newspapers
Author: Anthony Kitimo
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Delegates attending a drug abuse conference in Mombasa yesterday came 
face-to-face with the crisis facing addicts at the Coast General Hospital.

The international and local delegates were shocked to find that the 
government and other agencies had failed to meet the standards for 
running a rehabilitation centre.

They lack adequate staff, food and detoxifying medicine for the 
rehabilitation centre, which was started late last year. Several challenges

Because of the shortcomings, the number of drug addicts seeking 
treatment at the centre has fallen.

Ms Carolyne Rita, a volunteer counsellor, said they admit more than 
30 patients every three months but only about three people are 
successfully rehabilitated. Most drop out because of the crisis at the centre.

"We lack trained nurses to deal with mental illness and we thus fail 
to fully rehabilitate the patients," Ms Rita said.

She added: "Before their admission, the addicts are promised good 
services, but the reality is different, so they flee."

Conference delegate Farida Rashid asked the government to support the 
project so as to win the war against drug abuse.

"Nurses should receive incentives to pursue courses on mental illness 
and funds should be made available to run rehabilitation centres," she said.

Kenya has only 25 psychiatrists and about 400 mental health nurses. 
Coast Province where the drug problem is rampant, has only one 
psychiatrist, Dr Charles Mwangome.

Drug addicts at the centre confessed to the delegates that they 
usually obtain narcotics such as cocaine and heroin.

"We cannot leave narcotics overnight and several peddlers supply us 
with heroin and cocaine here but not in large quantities," a patient said.

The centre's funds started running out in May.

This led to the closure of 12 other rehabilitation centres opened in 
different parts of the province.

The National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority 
director Sheikh Juma Ngao said only 4,600 addicts have been 
successfully rehabilitated since the programme was started in 
November last year. Coast Province has an estimated 19,000 addicts. 
"We need more money to ensure the remaining addicts kick the drugs 
habit," Sheikh Ngao said.

Religion important

The four-day third international conference of Islamic scholars and 
faith-based organisations on drug reduction is taking place at 
Mombasa Continental Resort.

The government promised to work closely with religious groups to 
tackle drug abuse.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom