Government spearheads Harm Reduction Interventions for Universal Health Care

Health CS Sicily Kariuki interacts with reformed drug addicts during the 1st Eastern Africa Harm Reduction Conference at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi.

Nairobi, KENYA 27 February 2018 – The Ministry of Health is spearheading harm reduction interventions as part of the larger Universal Health Care (UHC) agenda.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki said the Ministry is working with Partners in Health for inclusive involvement and targeting of vulnerable and marginalized groups.

She disclosed that under the UHC framework, the government will continue to improve access and quality of primary health care services including the integration of harm reduction interventions as part of the primary health care package.

The CS made the remarks today when she officially opened the first Eastern Africa Harm Reduction Conference in Nairobi where she called for implementation of harm reduction interventions within the UHC framework.

Harm reduction is an important component of a comprehensive approach to address illicit drug use and has been endorsed as a best practice by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The CS explained that “Harm reduction is part of the renewed push for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support to assist the people who use drugs to reduce or eliminate HIV and harms associated with drug use.”

The Ministry she added has provided financial resources to support procurement of methadone and naloxone as well as staffing for Medically Assisted Therapy (MAT) clinics among other resources.

“Such programs will go a long way to improve the quality of lives of the beneficiaries and reintegrate them back to families and the society,” she added.

The CS lamented that drug use is widespread and increasing within the Eastern Africa Community (EAC) region and has become a major factor for HIV transmission. She revealed that an estimated 262,000 drug users in the region accounts for one-fifth of African in total.

“In Kenya, there are more than 23,000 people currently injecting drugs, 92% of those are heroin addicts and 8 % are addicted to other opiates,” she noted.

She commended NASCOP for spearheading efforts on harm reduction in collaboration with NACC, NACADA, the Division of Mental Health and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board. She also applauded the role played by KANCO in uniting the EAC region through the harm reduction program and commended the strong leadership, commitment and the longstanding efforts that civil society organizations and other stakeholders have made to counter drug use problem in the region.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki welcomes Farid Fezoua, President and CEO General Electric company who called on her at Afya House today.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki samples products exhibited by a youth group during the 1st Eastern Africa Harm Reduction Conference at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi.