NACADA survey: Four-year-olds abusing drugs

Written By: Margaret Kalekye/Allan Aoko

Col. (Rtd.) Julius Githiri, Chairman NACADA Kenya

A survey released by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug abuse (NACADA) reveals that 20 per cent of pupils in Kenyan primary schools are abusing drugs.

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The grim revelations indicate children as young as four years were abusing drugs and that the trend in learning institutions is becoming a health and social problem in the country.

“7.2 per cent were currently using prescription drugs; 3.2 per cent  were using tobacco, 2.6 per cent were using alcohol, 2.3 per cent miraa/muguka, 1.2 per cent were using inhalants and 1.2 per cent heroin,” reads the report.

The survey blamed class repetition and the decline in academic performance for the rampant use of drug and alcohol in schools.

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The survey showed that pupils were mostly likely to use drugs during school holidays, on their way home from school, during weekends and during inter-school competitions.

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When asked about the sources of drugs, the pupils admitted buying them from kiosks or shops and bars near their schools.  School workers were also identified as peddlers.

The survey sampled pupils drawn from 10 regions namely Nairobi, Central, Lower Eastern, Upper Eastern, North Eastern, Coast, Upper Rift, Lower Rift, Nyanza and Western.

The survey shows that pupils are knowledgeable about the different drugs and substances of abuse. Tobacco, alcohol and bhang were the most widely known drugs with a prevalence of 89.3 pc, 83.8 pc and 77.8 pc respectively.

“The drugs and substances of abuse readily available to primary school pupils were tobacco (41.9pc), prescription drugs (27.8pc), alcohol (25.9pc) and miraa/muguka (23.1pc)” reads the report.

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A total of 3,307 pupils from 177 randomly selected primary schools were polled.

Pupils from homes where drug and alcohol abuse was prevalent have a high risk of getting into drugs.

The authority is now recommending enforcement of guidelines on the establishment of structures including business premises and bars near schools.

It is also calling on the Pharmacy and Poison Board to streamline operations of pharmaceutical drugs selling outlets by developing strict guidelines on distribution, storage and sale of prescription drugs in Kenya.

The Principal Administrative Secretary Kangethe Thuku who launched the report said time had come for all stakeholders in the education sector to address the worrying trend of drug and substance abuse among young children before the entire generation is reduced to zombies.

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NACADA chairman Col. (Rtd.) Julius Githiri urged parents and all stakeholders not to bury their heads in the sand. “We need to get out of denial and see what is happening to our children,” he advised.

The survey launched in partnership with the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) sought to assess the attitude of pupils towards alcohol and drugs use by examining their anti-smoking and anti-drinking perspectives.

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