Another Milestone for Kenya: Launch of the National Standard on Management of Persons with Substance Use Disorders

According to the International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (2020), the use of psychoactive drugs or narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances without medical supervision is associated with significant health risks. Backing this up the World Drug Report 2022 indicates that around 284 million people aged 15-64 used drugs worldwide in 2022, a 26 percent increase over the previous decade. Unfortunately, this translates to an accelerated impact on public health, drug use disorders, drug-related deaths, and drug-related treatment.

Closer home, in many countries in Africa, the largest proportion of people in treatment for drug use disorders are there primarily for cannabis use disorders and are under the age of 35. With this, it is evident that substance use continues to exact a significant toll on the health, economy, and social spectrums in our communities.

At the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), we believe that the problems around addiction can be addressed by collaborating with prevention and treatment systems, the criminal justice system, the education systems, and other points of contact such as poison control and health care.

It is against this background that NACADA in partnership with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) developed the Kenya Standard Management of Persons with Substance Use Disorders- KS2941-1-2021 to guide the Management of Persons with Substance Use Disorders. The development of this Standard was through a technical committee representation from the Ministry of Health, Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), Kenyatta University, the Aga Khan University Hospital, Retreat Treatment Centre, Total Wellness East Africa Limited, and other stakeholders drawn from the public and private sectors.

Worth mentioning is that the Standard is anchored on the International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (2020). They set the overall scene and provide the minimum requirements to be met within treatment and rehabilitation centers in Kenya offering different levels of care for persons with substance use disorders.

Due to the diversity and complexity of care in the treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery continuum, the Standard is in four parts namely:

Part 1: Community Outreach, Prevention, and Early Intervention

Part 2: Outpatient Treatment

Part 3: Residential Treatment

Part 4: Recovery Management

Overall the aim of the Standard is to improve the health and quality of life of the people with drug use disorders and to help individuals achieve recovery to the extent possible.

The Standard was launched on June 26, during the commemoration of the International Day Against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDADA) or World Drugs Day, 2022 that was held at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. This was the first in-person commemoration since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To echo the words of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director, “there is a need to devote the necessary resources and attention to addressing every aspect of the world drug problem including the provision of evidence-based care to all who need it.” With the launch and operationalization of the Standard, treatment, rehabilitation, care, recovery, and reintegration of persons with substance use disorder in Kenya shall be guided by target-specific interventions that meet a specific set of requirements and standards.

A copy of the Standard is available on https://webstore.kebs.org/

It was also during the same day that the Authority launched the “Assessment of Emerging Trends on Drugs and Substance Abuse in Kenya, 2021.” This survey was necessitated by the rapid increase of new psychoactive substances in the country. This was an exploratory cross-sectional design study where both qualitative and quantitative data were generated. Data was collected through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and the collection of suspected samples was collected for laboratory analysis.

According to the survey, there is glaring evidence of emerging trends in the use of prescription drugs, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes or vaping devices, and cannabis edibles (cookies and sweets)

Some of the recommendations from the survey include:

  • Provision of strict guidelines in handling prescription drugs to eradicate the risk of diversion to unintended use;
  • Implement drug demand reduction strategies aimed at educating those at risk on the potential harms and other adverse consequences of non-medical use of prescription drugs;
  • Agencies to adopt new narcotic drug control approaches to respond to evolving new challenges including monitoring of new markets for narcotic drugs; and
  • Public education and awareness on the emerging trends of drugs and substances of abuse.

A copy of the Report is available through: https://nacada.go.ke/publications

Country
Kenya