Kenya launches treatment protocol for substance use disorders

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By Margaret Kalekye

The Kenyan government has launched a revised “National Protocol for Treatment of Substance Use Disorders, 2017.”

The Ministry of Health says the protocol will standardize and enhance the delivery of drug treatment services in Kenya.

The protocol provides for guidelines on the comprehensive and evidence based management of substance use disorders, as well as the requisite principles and standards for service delivery.

This will be in an addition to other guidelines the Ministry has developed to addressing the problems of substance abuse such as Guidelines on cessation of tobacco use and nicotine dependence, various guidelines and standard operating procedures on the medically assisted therapy (MAT) for persons using Opioids.

Speaking at the launch, the Head of Curative and Rehabilitative Services, Dr. Izaq Odongo, said the protocol will enhance access and quality of treatment for drug use related and addictive disorders.

He added the strengthening and continual improvement of the quality of substance use related disorders treatment and care services will play a key role in reducing the demand for illicit and licit drugs, HIV transmission amongst drug users, drug related crime, incarceration and relapse.

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Dr. Odongo who represented the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr. Cleopa Mailu decried the rising prevalence of Substance abuse in the society, majorly affecting the young people between age 10-24yrs, who constitute 2/3 of the population, leading to overwhelming impacts to the health and socioeconomic development.

“This is a threat to the future of our country and we must focus on the young people with an aim to build on their protective factors and mitigate the risks factors, educate them, build their life skills and any other actions to strengthen their resilience, and create an environment safe from Substances. By doing so we will reduce the demand for substances of abuse and suppress the availability of substances in our society,” he stressed.

He said the Ministry is committed to addressing the scourge of substance abuse and its high negative impacts to realize the Kenya Vision 2030 and the Global obligations in the United Nations General Assembly declarations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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The world drug report 2014 estimates there are 2 billion alcohol users, 1.3 billion tobacco or nicotine smokers and 185 million illicit drugs users. Worldwide, 3.3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, representing 5.9% of all deaths.

He noted that the harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 diseases and injury conditions causing death and disability relatively early in life.

In the age group 20–39 years approximately 25% of the total deaths are attributable to alcohol use, said Dr. Odongo.

The protocol will be circulated to all service providers countrywide for use in provision of standardized and quality healthcare services targeting alcohol and drug users to enable appropriate management of substance use and its related health and social consequences including communicable and non-communicable diseases.

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