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Rising drug, substance abuse a concern during festive season

PS Mary Muthoni.

The State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards is concerned about the surge in drug and substance abuse, particularly the alarming rise of novel nicotine and emerging products as we enter the festive season.

In a statement, the department says it is imperative to collectively address the health, economic, and social risks associated with these substances, including the concerning increase in road traffic accidents and mental health issues.

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“The proliferation of novel nicotine and emerging products presents a new challenge in the fight against substance abuse. Deceptive marketing tactics, especially targeting vulnerable populations, require vigilance and proactive efforts to shield our citizens from potential harm,” reads the statement in part.

According to PS Mary Muthoni, the health risks associated with these substances are substantial, leading to severe physical and mental health disorders, addiction, and loss of life.

In addition, the PS says that the economic burden, resulting from healthcare costs, lost productivity, and strain on public resources, undermines our social and economic development.

“A heightened risk of road traffic accidents during the Christmas festive season is linked to substance abuse. Impaired judgment, decreased coordination, and slower reaction times due to drug use significantly contribute to the escalating number of accidents on our roads,” she says.

These incidents result in loss of life and injuries, imposing a considerable economic burden on individuals, families, and society at large.

“As we enter the festive season, prioritizing the safety and well-being of our communities is paramount. We urge individuals, families, and communities to remain vigilant and take proactive steps to prevent drug and substance abuse,” she avers.

The PS adds that open dialogue, education, and awareness campaigns are crucial to ensuring that our citizens are well-informed about the risks associated with these substances.

She further says that multi-agency enforcement teams coordinated by the Ministry of Health will diligently work to enforce existing legislation and regulations related to substance abuse. “We call upon the media, civil society organizations, and the public to support these efforts by disseminating accurate information, raising awareness, and promoting responsible behavior throughout the festive season.”

We remain steadfast in the commitment to strengthen prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

Collaboration with various stakeholders, including healthcare providers, educational institutions, law enforcement agencies, and community organizations, will continue to implement evidence-based strategies addressing the challenges posed by novel nicotine and emerging products.

In conclusion, the PS urged Kenyans to unite in determination to combat drugs and substance abuse, safeguard citizens’ well-being, and ensure a safe and joyous Christmas festive season for all.

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