Reachout centre trust director Taib Abdulrahman address Members of
county assembly during the forum
The County Assembly is the legislative arm of the County Government which makes laws to govern certain operations; the assembly also has oversight responsibilities on the county’s operational activities. Among the mandated bestowed upon them in the Government of Kenya 2010 Constitution is; to Receives and approve plans and policies and approves the budget and expenditure of the County Government, through this Reachout centre Trust and its partners plans to involve the County assembly in implementation of by laws that will see alleviate the status of People who use drugs in Mombasa.
With the partnership of United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime and the support from Open Society Foundation of Eastern Africa, we sensitized members of county assembly on evidence based interventions for people who use drugs.
UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Head Regional Health Programme Sylvie Bertrand addressed on the neglected People who use drugs with their concerns not addressed in a right manner as policies have been harsh on them not only in Kenya but around the Globe and better approach through Legislators is what UNODC, Civil society organization’s call.
The forum featured the Mombasa County Medically assisted therapy successes, challenges and lessons learnt since inception of the program back in 2015, Civil society organization led by RCT Director as we called of Harm reduction Intervention for People who use drugs, reform of by laws that hinders effective & efficient service provision to people with substance abuse disorder.
Since inception of the MAT program in Mombasa, the centre is currently serving more than 700 clients taking methadone, the program have seen a lot of people who were using drugs reforming and integrated back to the community, a number of them have been absorbed by civil society organization as peer educators, other have started their own income generating activities like; car washing, barber shop and drivers, they are even honesty with their clinicians and councilors and frequently open up on issues affecting them.
MAT Beneficiaries present during the meeting; Deborah and Fadhil as well shared their testimonials during their dark days, challenges they got when accessing health services, stigma and discrimination from the community and family members & harassment from the law enforcers, the beneficiaries conquered a lot has changed since they started taking Methadone.
Members agreed that a lot still need to be done to curb drug menace in Mombasa including; having more centers to cater for clients in different areas, already there’s a plan to start a centre in Mwembe Tayari and porteriz, there’s a need for MAT users to register themselves in groups and seek non-interest loans from the County Government to fight unemployment and relapsing and Members of county assembly should look into by laws that hinder access to service for people who use drugs and reform them
National Response for PWUD
Margret Njiraini from NASCOP took members of county assembly through punitive drug laws that continue to contribute in stigmatization and discrimination of PWUD, there is a need to focus less on obtaining convictions and more on preventing addictions (Demand Reduction). They called members of the County assembly to seek by laws that would seek to be treat people with addictions, not handcuffing them.
Arresting, prosecuting and incarceration, placing under criminal justice supervision for a drug law violation, yet instead of reducing problematic drug use, drug-related disease transmission or overdose deaths, the drug war has actually done more harm than problematic drug use itself.
Njiraini as well adds that there’s 18,000 PWID Nationally, as part of Key population this group’s prevalence is three times higher than the general public because of their risky behaviors of Injecting drugs and their sexual behaviors, community stigma and discrimination contributes to this as they don’t freely access health and other crucial services because they have been neglected.