The University of Nairobi (UoN) joined the world in commemorating the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDADA) on 24th June, 2022
The virtual event was held under the theme: Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crisis.
In his address, UoN Vice Chancellor Prof. Stephen Kiama said the issue of alcohol and drug abuse is a reality at the University affecting both staff and students posing a risk to their livelihoods.
“There are big risks when anyone falls into drug and alcohol abuse and as a university it is important for us to be affirmative on this matter, not only to talk about it but come up with deliberate interventions that will help us to set the example and inspire the Kenyan community. Let us do things that can be seen so that other people can come and learn from us and the entire country will be better of because UoN was there and offered leadership in this matter,” Prof. Kiama said.
The VC called on researchers to gather more data on drug and alcohol abuse saying this would help in coming up with necessary interventions to help curb the menace.
“I would ask that we gather data on alcohol and drug abuse in the university that will help us initiate interventions for the future. As an education and research institution we need to do a lot of research and have data to enable us develop interventions,” the VC said.
He said the University Executive Board had approved a policy on alcohol and drug abuse to make deliberate interventions to address this matter.
“Soon the division responsible for this policy will be moving out to sensitize students and staff and show them what action they need to take if they fall into this trap,” the VC noted.
On her part, Associate Vice Chancellor Research Innovation and Enterprise Prof. Margaret Hutchinson said as a division they want to support UoN, Kenyan community and the global community in gathering data that will speak to different facets of this global challenge.
“As researchers we continue to look at the causes of drug abuse, emerging issues and documenting the cost of this vice and come up with ways to manage in addition to developing sustainable support mechanisms,” Prof. Hutchinson said.
Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Julius Ogeng’o said drug and alcohol abuse is a vice that needs to be seriously looked into before it gets out of hand.
“The issue of drug abuse is active and is biting on to the academic process. It is biting students some before they come, biting those who are already here and it is biting staff.
“Drug abuse is known to impair cognitive ability, students underperform and even get wasted. There is delayed transition, unfavorable progression and dropping out of school. It doesn’t discriminate. Extremely brilliant brains have gone to waste,” Prof. Ogeng’o.
The DVC said drug and alcohol abuse is a true global challenge that is already at the University saying it is expensive, it ravages families and reduces their capacities to educate their children.
Dr. Lucy Muhia from the University of Nairobi Health Services called on everyone to be proactive in fighting drug and alcohol abuse.
Presenters at the webinar were; Dr. Linda Nyamute, a Mental Health Advocate, Prof. Walter Jaoko, Director KAVI, Mr. Morris Kamenderi, Principal Research Officer at NACADA and Cary Hopkins Eyles Deputy Director for the International Consortium of Universities and Drug Demand Reduction.