Confusion as Health ministry lists miraa as dangerous drug
SEE ALSO :Strong health systems key to deliver UHCIf for some reason a serious miraa user stops, the document says, they face withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, vivid unpleasant dreams and agitation. But this seems to contradict a February announcement by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), which had given miraa a clean bill of health. In a Sh38 million publicly-funded two-year study in Embu and Meru, Kemri scientists concluded miraa chewing did not have any negative health consequences. The study was aimed at discrediting the grounds on which Britain, the US, France, Switzerland and Sweden have banned the use of the stimulant in their territories on grounds of adverse health effects. Buoyed by these findings, while the Health Ministry was launching their protocol, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Willy Bett was assuring miraa farmers in Nyambene and Embu that the ban could be lifted. Mr Bett said the government has petitioned the UN on the European ban of miraa exports. Kenya, he said, is seeking an interpretation of a convention on drug trade that European nations had used to ban the exports. “If the interpretation favours Kenya -- that miraa is not a psychotic drug -- the government will ask these countries to remove the restrictions,” said Bett. Launching the protocol, the Head of Curative and Rehabilitative Services at the ministry Dr Izaq Odongo said efforts will be made to reduce the demand for substances of abuse and suppress their availability. This seems to contradict recent pro-miraa initiatives, including directives by President Uhuru Kenyatta to give the crop high visibility as a significant cash crop.
SEE ALSO :Shield women from avoidable deathsOn receiving a positive report from a presidential taskforce on miraa, the President in April ordered release of Sh1.2 billion to the sub-sector. “Miraa is good for the Meru people. We have had to fight claims of infertility and other health issues, but there is no evidence. "This report should allow the authorities to develop the crop,” said Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi then. This protocol, says Medical Services Director Jackson Kioko, is based on international best practice to manage substance use disorders. www.rocketscience.co.ke
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.