The burden of substance use disorders in sub-Saharan Africa has been projected to increase by an estimated 130% by 2050. Despite this, little is known about the substance use disorder treatment and prevention systems in the region.
The objective of this review is to describe the public sector substance use disorder treatment and prevention systems in Kenya guided by the World Health Organization health systems framework model, with the aim of informing decision-making.
We reviewed official government documents obtained from hand-searching the websites of relevant governmental organizations including: Ministry of Health, National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Parliament of Kenya, Ministry of Treasury & National Planning, National Law Reporting Council, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the National Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Coordination Board and the 47 County Governments. We augmented those searches with official documents that the authors were aware of by virtue of being practitioners in the field. Draft and retired documents were excluded. The findings of the search are presented as a narrative review.
The Mental Health Act 1989, the main legislative framework governing substance use disorder treatment and prevention, focuses on institutional care only. While there are only three public health facilities offering substance use disorder treatment in Kenya, several non-public sector actors are involved in SUD treatment and prevention activities. Unfortunately, there is limited cross-sector collaboration. The Ministry of Health has no specific budget for substance use disorder treatment and prevention, while the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse has an annual resource gap of about US$ 5,000,000. The substance use disorder workforce in Kenya has not been characterized.
We propose five key strategies for strengthening substance use disorder treatment and prevention systems in Kenya including: (1) Enactment of the Mental Health (Amendment) bill 2018. (2) Integration of substance use disorder treatment and prevention into primary health care to increase access to care. (3) Utilization of money from taxation of alcohol, tobacco and betting to increase funding for substance use disorder treatment and prevention. (4) Characterization of the substance use disorder workforce to inform planning. (5) Enhanced collaboration between the government and non-state actors in order to increase access to SUD treatment and prevention.