The first alcohol, drug and substance abuse screening exercise demonstrated the dire need to reach out to those suffering different addictions.
The exercise under the office of the Spouse of the Deputy President (OSDP) took place at the Riruta Stadium in Dagoretti Constituency, Nairobi County.
The two-day screening exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday attracted approximately 700 participants, and also partners from the medical sector, counsellors, psychologists, and volunteers from the church and community.
Karen Hospital, Business Development-Community Relations, Ms Elizabeth Wamwea said, “This was a holistic medical camp with a difference where we had checkups for those addicted to alcohol, drug and substances, and included Covid-19 vaccination, nutritional advice on taking water and food, counselling and psychiatric service.”
Mrs Wamwea pointed out that following the medical investigations and screening, 90 per cent were at dependency level of the substances.
Ms Wamwea also spoke to the uniqueness of the medical camp, saying those with addictions needed reduced turnaround time in service delivery so they do not get agitated, and also knowing how to speak and handle them. “We did not want them agitated in any way, and gave them services in a dignified way”, she said.
She also described some of the medical needs of those addicted. “There is need to enhance the dental as most using substances have discoloured and also missing teeth. In addition, they need vaccinations, especially the cholera vaccine because of the environment they live in. Their optical needs further review, and a large percentage have low blood sugar, and a simple thing like increasing their water intake would go a long way for their health and keeping their kidneys on check,” said Mrs Wamwea.
Mrs Wamwea called on the collaboration of the medical sector, national and county governments, private sector and the community to win the war against drugs.
The participants also had sessions with counsellors and psychologists, since drug and substance abuse affects the mental health of the consumers.
Counsellor and Psychologist Owiti Omollo said that more than 80 per cent of those screened were at dependency level and needed admissions, and other interventions.
Speaking on behalf of the OSDP, Director Strategic Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Ms Wairimu Wanjaiya said the vision of Pastor Dorcas Rigathi was to see productive boys and men, out of the drug menace, earning an income, supporting their families and engaging positively in the community and at the national level.
“We shall continue doing this across the country. This is not an event but a journey and a process we are beginning. We appreciate all who are here with us as we start this amazing journey with Her Excellency,” said Ms Wanjaiya.
One of the community leaders involved in the exercise, Heavenly Glory Revelation Ministry (HGRM) and member of the Association of Pentecostal and Evangelical Clergy of Kenya (APECK) Bishop Muriithi Njiru said the residents of Dagoretti appreciated the drug and substance screening camp because it impacted many lives who expressed a desire to change their lives.
“We went to the interior parts of the informal settlements here in Kawangare, and there is indeed an alcohol and drugs crisis in this area. The addicted turned up, and sought the services, expressing the desire to change their ways,” said Bishop Muriithi.
John Kiarie, one of the beneficiaries of the program, said the boy child program targeting those with addictions would save many young men in the streets who were under the influence.
“I was also in the streets, and these are our brothers. This medical checkup shows there are people who care for those in the streets. Other people instead of helping those in the streets, chase them away, and such initiatives of reach out should continue,” said Mr Kiarie.