Drug users are at high risk of contracting Covid-19 Nairobi, Friday June 26, 2020

Today, Kenya joined the world to observe the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking amid revelations that People Who Use Drugs (PWUD), are at a high risk of contracting Covid-19 disease.

The Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS),  Dr. Rashid Aman said behaviors associated with the use of drugs, may increase their vulnerability to the disease, reduce their immunity and disorder associated with physical and psychological comorbidity.

Poor discipline and personal hygiene can predispose the PWUD to contracting the virus, due to reduced adherence to containment measures, he said and revealed that the Ministry of Health is working  to ensure continued access to care for persons who use drugs.

Dr. Rashid noted that during this period of Covid-19 and children being at home, there is need for parents to educate them about the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs use, and to discourage them from getting into drugs due to idleness.

The Ministry, he added is working with other partners, to implement the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030, with focus on substance use management, development and dissemination of information on substance use and disorder treatment protocols.

Other elements of the policy include training of healthcare workers, service providers, Non-Governmental Organizations, community based organizations and the private sector on the prevention of substance use.

A  study conducted by NACADA, on the status of Drugs and Substance Abuse in Kenya, in 2017 shows that the prevalence of the current usage of alcohol among those aged between 15 to 65 years, stands at 12.2 percent, tobacco is at 8.3 percent , Khat is at 4.1 percent and bhang/Marijuana, at 1percent.

The prevalence of heroin use disorder is less than 1 percent , but the health social impact is as high at 70 percent Dr. Rashid said and added that the current data indicate that the prevalence of multiple drugs of abuse is at 6 percent.

This year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking theme is ‘Better knowledge for better care.”