Drug use in Kenya has reached alarming rates, according to a new report.
The substances being used and abused include heroin, amphetamines - which are laboratory-produced and are known in the streets as speed, and other injectable drugs.
The UN 2012 World Drug report released on Wednesday states that Kenya and Tanzania are comparable with Libya, Mauritius and the Seychelles in the use of narcotics with the amphetamines increasingly finding their way into schools.
“The use of amphetamines and Mandrax in secondary schools in Nairobi was reported to be reaching almost three per cent with a significant number of pupils reporting use of the drugs within the past six months.”
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is also worried of the high number of pupils using miraa or khat which was found to be as high as 30 per cent among students in Nairobi.
The annual report says the market for heroin in Kenya is expanding as evidenced by increasing volume of seizures. In 2010, heroin seizures increased from 8.5 kg the previous year to 35 kg in 2010 while in Tanzania it increased from 7.9 to 191 kg in the same period.
The increasing incidents of Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) in the country has also the government worried because of the high HIV/Aids prevalence.
According to the National Aids Control Council, there are about 26,000 youths in Mombasa who inject drugs, with at least one out of every four being infected with HIV.
The report indicates that Nairobi has 20,000 injecting youths and the practice is responsible for close to four per cent of national HIV infections, with Coast Province having 17 per cent of new infections annually.
Already Kenya has secured Sh136 million from the Global Fund to implement a three-year pilot project to provide the over 50,000 injectors with needles and syringes.
However, the proposal has elicited strong opposition from political and religious leaders from the Coast who say that providing users with syringes will escalate the problem.
Ms Amina Abdalla, secretary of the Coast Community Anti-Drugs Coalition is among those who have threatened court action if the government implements the project.
She argued that the provision of needles would increase the demand for narcotics “and we cannot just sit back and see our children destroyed.”
The head of the National AIDS and STI Control Programme, Dr Peter Cherutich, says they are engaging the provincial administration, political, religious and community leaders to explain to them the benefits of the proposed programme.