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drug use prevention
universal prevention
prevention efforts
youth substance use
drug prevention
health workforce

Kenya Hosts Inaugural National Substance Use Prevention Summit 2024

The National Substance Use Prevention Summit 2024 in Kenya

In a world where substance use continues to pose a significant threat to health and well-being, Kenya is taking a bold stand. Kenya hosted the first National Prevention Week 2024 culminating in the National Substance Use Prevention Summit 2024.

This was not just an event but a powerful statement of intent that drug use prevention works. Under the theme, “Our Families, Our Schools. Our Workplaces. Our Community: A Sustainable Future for Humanity”, this inaugural initiative was a rallying call for action, education, and unity in the campaign against substance use and abuse in Kenya. It was an opportunity to celebrate stories of those who have resisted drug use, those in recovery, and those who work in drug use prevention under the call Story Yangu” (My Prevention Story).

Organized by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), in collaboration with various stakeholders. The success of the National Substance Use Prevention Week and Summit relied on partnerships and collaborations between the government, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, academic institutions, and the private sector. These partnerships help mobilize resources, expertise, and support needed to implement effective prevention programs and initiatives.

The objectives of the Prevention Week/Summit were:

  1. Raise awareness about the importance of prevention of alcohol and substance use and misuse of prescription medicines;
  2. Foster partnerships and collaborations between state and non-state agencies in promoting prevention strategies
  3. Celebrate people and community stories of prevention
  4. Promote and disseminate evidence-based resources and publications
  5. Reframe the narrative around alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs including non-medical use of prescription drugs

The National Substance Use Prevention Week featured a series of activities and programs designed to engage key players from across the country.

  • Community outreach programs targeting schools, youth groups, and other community organizations
  • Media campaigns to raise awareness about the protective and risk factors of substance use
  • Art events showcasing the talents of young people and promoting positive values
  • Policy dialogues and advocacy forums/ breakaway sessions to discuss key issues related to substance abuse prevention and control

The two-day summit was officially opened by Mr. Tom Osborn, the Executive Director of Shamiri Institute who in his remarks highlighted that mental health issues and substance abuse have a complex relation.

“Youth and children experiencing mental health challenges are more vulnerable to substance use and conversely substance abuse can exacerbate mental health issues creating a destructive cycle that is challenging to break”. He added that Shamiri Institute, they are committed to advancing the understanding of mental health and substance abuse among youth and children. Through our research, education, and community outreach programs, we aim to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to prioritize their mental health and make informed decisions about substance use. He called for addressing mental health concerns proactively and creating a supporting environment that nurtures and empowers the youth to healthier futures.

Speaking during the Summit, Mr. Carlton Hall, Chief Executive Officer of Carlton Hall Consulting and a Public Health Expert, extensively painted a picture of not investing in drug use prevention- a case and practice of the current situation in the United States of America. He encouraged participants to invest in prevention from the family level to our communities and workplaces. To build on this, Pastor Simon Mbevi (Pastor S) acknowledged that families are the cornerstone of drug use prevention, “there is a need to ensure both the boy and girl child growing up experiences are positive and healthy to avert them from using alcohol and drug as coping mechanisms of adverse childhood experiences.

Dr. Anthony Omerikwa, MBS the Chief Executive Officer of NACADA in his closing remarks acknowledged that drug use prevention has evolved from a focus on individual behavior to

a more comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying risk factors contributing to alcohol and drug use. He called upon all stakeholders to implement drug use prevention programs as well as advocate for evidence-based prevention strategies, raise awareness about the dangers of drug use, and empower our children and youth to make informed decisions.

As the Summit came to a close, the Summit resolutions were clear:

  • Make it an annual event to ensure communities across Kenya have a regular platform to share experiences, learn from each other, and strengthen their substance use prevention efforts
  • Prioritize the implementation of programs and interventions supported by scientific research and embrace evidence-based interventions to maximize impact and sustainability
  • Fostering greater community engagement by empowering people and involving all sectors in prevention efforts

Participants recognized and appreciated that interventions must be targeted and specific, addressing the unique needs of each target group in our societies. With this in mind, they developed a series of targeted pledges aimed at key stakeholders in drug use prevention.  It was also a time for more than just awareness and words on paper but collective promises to take meaningful action and create a safer, healthier future for all.

Below are the pledges that are to guide stakeholders' actions moving forward:


Recognizing that families play a critical role in shaping the behaviors and choices of their members, we pledge to actively engage in drug use prevention within our families through:

  • Nurturing strong, supportive relationships within our families to provide a sense of belonging and reduce the likelihood of drug use
  • Modelling healthy behaviors and attitudes towards drug use, serving as positive role models for our children
  • Educating our children about the risks of drug use and maintaining open, honest communication about substance use
  • Establishing clear rules and boundaries regarding drug use and enforcing consequences for breaking them
  • Monitoring our children's activities and supervising their social circles to prevent exposure to drugs

We recognize the crucial role of learning institutions in drug use prevention by providing education, support, and a safe environment and we pledge to:

  • Prioritize the well-being and safety of our students by implementing comprehensive drug prevention programs that promote healthy choices and behaviors
  • Create a positive and inclusive school environment that fosters resilience and empowers students to make informed decisions about their health and well-being
  • Integrate drug prevention education into our curriculum at all levels, incorporating evidence-based strategies and best practices
  • Educate our students, teachers, and parents about the risks and consequences of drug use, and provide support and resources for those affected by substance use
  • Establish clear policies and protocols for addressing drug-related incidents and ensuring a consistent and compassionate response

Recognizing the pivotal role workplaces play in promoting health and well-being, we commit to:

  • Create a safe and healthy work environment that promotes employee well-being and supports those affected by drug abuse
  • Establish a drug-free workplace policy that clearly defines expectations, consequences, and support mechanisms for employees
  • Educate our employees about the risks of drug use and provide access to resources for prevention, intervention, and treatment
  • Conduct regular assessments of our workplace culture and practices to ensure they support a drug-free environment
  • Support employees in seeking help for drug-related issues, including offering time off for treatment and maintaining confidentiality

Taking cognizance that there is no drug use prevention without partnership, communities pledge to:

  • Prioritize awareness and advocacy programs on drug use prevention and support families to play an active role in drug use prevention
  • Collaborate with law enforcement agencies to combat drug trafficking and ensure safety in our communities
  • Provide resources and resources for persons with substance use disorders to seek treatment and recovery
  • Advocate for policies and regulations that restrict access to alcohol and drugs as well as promote healthy, drug-free environments

Acknowledging that partners play an essential part in the collective effort to prevent drug use and promote healthier communities, we commit to:

  • Collaborate with other stakeholders to develop and implement, effective, culturally sensitive, and evidence-based drug prevention programs
  • Advocate for the formal recognition and support of drug prevention professionals and build the capacity of our staff and volunteers to deliver effective drug prevention programs and services
  • Implement guidelines and standards for the practice of drug use prevention
  • Lobby for increased funding and support for drug prevention efforts at local, national, and international levels
  1. MEDIA

Additionally, the media is actively involved in shaping alcohol and drug use prevention conversations, amplifying drug use prevention efforts, and addressing issues of stigma and misinformation. The media should provide accurate and balanced reporting on drug-related issues and:

  • Adhere to ethical guidelines and standards in our reporting on drug-related issues, including accuracy, fairness, and sensitivity to educate and inspire positive change
  • Provide training for our journalists and staff on responsible reporting practices for drug-related stories reporting
  • Dedicate resources to drug use prevention stories and investigative journalism on drug-related topics, uncovering underlying causes and advocating for effective solutions
  • Collaborate with experts and organizations in the field of drug prevention to ensure content is informative and impactful



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