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Drug users to be treated instead of being jailed

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[Reachout Centre Trust Health and Advocacy Officer Hassan Suleiman. Photo/ Tom Fondo]

The ongoing engagement between Reachout Centre Trust an anti-drug lobby and the judiciary have enabled drug users access health services instead of being locked up in cells.

Reachout Centre Trust Health and advocacy Officer Hassan Suleiman said that over 50 drug users who were arrested and charged before Mombasa law courts were referred to the Coast based anti-drug organisation for treatment, counseling and monitoring.

Speaking after a successful engagement forum between judicial officers, probation department, Mombasa County health officials and Reachout officials in Mombasa, Mr. Suleiman said that the positive move was as a result of the quarterly engagement that the stakeholders initiated early this year.

He said that drug users were sick people who needed treatment and not jail terms and urged the judiciary to help them access health services and counseling which will finally help them out of drug addiction.

In the forum which was also attended by Mombasa Chief Magistrate Julius Nang’ea, Suleiman said that there was need for more deliberations and health based approach to people who use drugs since methadone treatment has proved to be effective in disentangling drug users from the menace.

He said that through such deliberations, drug users who are arrested are directly referred to Reachout Centre Trust for assessment, counseling and treatment.

“Our officers are now attending various court sessions so as to directly receive the referrals from the magistrates,” he noted.

According to Mr. Suleiman the move has enabled drug users to be registered to the Freeretown methadone clinic in Kisauni where they receive their daily treatment.

“When drug users are arrested and put behind bars they are denied of the necessary support, counseling and treatment that helps them recover from addiction,” he noted.

On his part, Mombasa law courts Chief Magistrate Julius Nang’ea said that the engagements will be enhanced to ensure people who use drugs are linked to counseling and treatment to help them quit drug addiction.