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KENYA’S DRUG TOWNS, DYING YOUTH

Revealed: Towns that top drugs list

Story by ARTHUR OKWEMBA
Publication Date: 6/21/2008

Kisumu and Nakuru lead in alcohol abuse in Kenya, a report has shown.

The study, carried out in five towns, showed that 36.3 per cent of respondents abused alcohol. Another 17.5 per cent abused nicotine, bhang (9.9 per cent), heroin (8.0 per cent), khat 2.2 per cent and cocaine (2.2 per cent).

The highest number of heroin abusers are in Mombasa (22.3 per cent), Malindi (9.8 per cent) and Nairobi (six per cent).

Some 1,420 people, mostly youths below 30 years, were interviewed for the study. Many were predisposed to HIV and hepatitis C infections. Of the 120 respondents who were tested for HIV and hepatitis C, 42 per cent were HIV positive and 61 per cent HCV positive.

The rate of infection was higher among injection drug users, with 48.9 per cent of the males and 85.7 per cent of the females testing HIV positive. Because drug injectors try to clean their needles before use, researchers concluded that the high HIV rates were due to low rates of condom use.

The study also found that families of those who abuse alcohol and other drugs spend colossal amounts of money in medical expenses, including treatment for injuries sustained in accidents or paying for rehabilitation.

Victims suffer from low productivity at home and at work, and are likely to die early besides being prone to disease and injuries.

At Mathari National Hospital, a two-week rehabilitation programme for drug abusers costs at least Sh5,600. A three- month programme costs Sh36,000.

In Tanzania, 45 out of 170 families interviewed during a study on substance abuse complained of using huge sums of money on traditional healers.

Another study to be published in the African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies, noted that parents and the Government were spending huge sums of money to manage consequences of alcohol abuse.

Patients

The study was titled Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Co-morbidities: A Case Study of Patients at Mathari Psychiatric Hospital.

It said that up to 34 per cent of the 238 patients admitted at the hospital due to alcohol or substance abuse suffered from schizophrenia — a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Another 20 per cent had mood disorders among other illnesses.

Yet, majority of those with these conditions turned to another drug to give them a sense of wellbeing, and only sought medical help after suffering other side effects.

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About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.

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