Nairobi — A parliamentary Caucus against drug abuse has announced plans to develop legislative proposals aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of drug abuse in Kenya.
Among these proposals is the introduction of amnesty for drug users, seeking to replace the current approach of criminalization and imprisonment.
In a meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Mauritius, Sooroojdev Phokeer, and members of Kenya's departmental committee on Health alongside the Parliamentary caucuses against drug abuse, legislators emphasized the necessity for a paradigm shift.
Led by Buuri MP Rindikiri Mugambi, the MPs embarked on an experimental learning visit to Mauritius to address the harm caused by drug abuse in their country.
"We're here to learn about harm reduction, inspired by Mauritius' robust approach to dealing with drug addiction--a major issue in our country that demands local and international measures," said Mugambi.
They highlighted the need to broaden options for the thousands of young people incarcerated for drug offenses in Kenyan prisons.
Mugambi expressed the intent for Kenyan parliamentarians to gain insights into harm reduction programs, facilitating the development of legislative tools to combat drug abuse in Kenya.
He commended Mauritius' Ministry of Health and Wellness for their comprehensive assistance and well-coordinated harm reduction structure.
The lawmakers underscored the necessity for collaboration between Kenya and Mauritius, urging both countries to strengthen parliamentary cooperation.
Nyeri Town MP Duncan Mathenge highlighted the similarities between the two nations as coastal regions on the Indian Ocean, known as global drug trafficking routes.
He praised Mauritius' strategies in securing its airspace, enacting laws, and formulating policies for drug harm reduction.
"Unlike Kenya, Mauritius extensively funds rehabilitation, treating drug abuse as a chronic mental health condition. Their approach, which includes budget allocation for treatment, differs significantly from Kenya's heavily privatized addiction rehab services." Mathenge noted.
He emphasized the importance of making addiction rehabilitation services more accessible across Kenya, similar to Mauritius' approach in public primary health care facilities.
Seme MP James Nyikal echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the need for policies and frameworks to address the challenges faced by both countries in combating drug abuse.
Dr. Nyikal praised the structures and legal frameworks established by Mauritius' health ministry, considering addiction as a chronic brain illness.
"We must implement similar structures and frameworks in Kenya," insisted Dr. James, advocating for the integration of legal frameworks to support comprehensive health structures.
Webuye East MP, Hon. Martin Wanyonyi Pepela, highlighted Kenya's potential to achieve developmental goals without heavy reliance on donor funding. He noted Mauritius' success in providing free, accessible, and sustainable healthcare, primarily funded by the government.
Speaker Phokeer emphasized the significance of combatting drug abuse, acknowledging its global challenge. He emphasized the benchmarking visit as an opportunity for Kenya and Mauritius to exchange best practices and policies in drug abuse harm reduction.
The Kenyan MPs were accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Health, National Syndemic Diseases Control Council, and the United Nations Mission in Kenya on this enlightening visit to Mauritius. - Presidential Communication Service