We’ll build rehab centres in every county, Gachagua says

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua addresses officials from different State agencies at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi yesterday.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru| Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua yesterday announced plans by the government to build rehabilitation centres for alcohol and drug addicts in every county.

Speaking during a meeting with officials from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Anti-Counterfeit Authority, the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the National Campaign against Drug Abuse (Nacada), Mr Gachagua lamented that young people are wasting away in alcohol and drug abuse.

“We have talked to governors to [identify all addicts] and county governments will [provide] NHIF [National Health Insurance Fund cover] to pay for their rehabilitation. It costs between Sh50,000 and Sh120,000 to get rehabilitation services for a minimum of three months,” the DP said.

The meeting comes just weeks after the DP met with leaders in Central to find a solution to the alcoholism menace in the region.

Mr Gachagua said Central will be used as a model to combat the vice in the rest of the country, with similar programmes rolled out in all the other regions.

“The President, who is the chairman of the National Security Council, has gotten extremely concerned. Alcoholism has become a serious problem,” said the Deputy President.

“The fight started in Mt Kenya, not because I'm from there, but because statistics show prevalence is very high there. There are no people you can employ in Central. I have to import workers in my farm," the DP said. He also urged members of county assemblies to formulate laws and policies to combat the sale and consumption of illicit brew.

“We have asked MCAs to put in place tough penalties to deter producers and wholesalers of drugs and alcohol. We have asked for stringent fines and prison terms for people manufacturing, selling and consuming illicit brew. This war will be won through he concerted efforts of the men and women in this room. We have a responsibility to save a generation,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Nacada CEO Victor Okioma explained that from statistics, Central Kenya is the worst affected by alcoholism and the use of marijuana. He said efforts to curb the menace have been hindered by challenges in licensing, lack of reinforcement, online sale of alcohol among others.

Anti Counterfeit Agency Deputy Director Enforcement Lindsay Kipkemoi said the agency has established that counterfeit alcohol plays a big role in alcoholism because they are cheaper than licensed alcoholic drinks.

“In fighting [alcoholism], we need to look at the source of counterfeits, because you can have a manufacturer counterfeiting himself. We also need to handle the demand of alcohol because every time there is a demand, there will always be someone to meet it. Alternatives need to be provided to keep them away from alcohol,” he said.

A survey on the Status of Drugs and Substance abuse in Kenya released in March 2023 showed that 3.1 million Kenyans consume alcohol. Most consumers, showed the survey, came from Western Kenya at 23.8 per cent, followed by Coast with 13.9 per cent and Central with 12.8 per cent. Central was however in the spotlight, having shown the highest prevalence of second generation and portable spirits.

The survey also showed that more men than women take alcohol, both manufactured and traditional varieties.