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One third of Kenya's civil servants are addicted to drugs

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Government documents show that 38 per cent of government employees, or approximately 266,000 public servants, are addicted to drugs and have compromised service delivery in the public sector.

A draft policy from the Interior Ministry warned that drug addiction has affected employee's mental health, undermined welfare of families and denied the country value for money."Where an employee is declared medically unfit to continue working, the department shall hasten the exit process. Whenever an employee retires or dies due to ADA or related causes, the Department shall facilitate terminal benefits for the next of kin as per the existing Human Resource Management guidelines," the draft policy dubbed Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA) at the Workplace said.

The government in August last year came up with an Act to award top performing civil servants following low productivity in the civil service and poor delivery of public services. The new policy, which follows an internal report that claims alcohol to be main cause of poor service delivery, is still waiting for public participation before being tabled to Parliament.

"Use of alcohol and psychoactive substances by employees does not only portray a bad image of the employee but also of the Ministry and Government at large," the policy signed by Interior CS Fred Matiangi said.

The State describes addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterised by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

"Its effects have been manifested in the declining employees' and organisations' productivity and performance," the document says. "An employee who has an ADA problem shall be exempted from working in designated positions identified by management as being critical to their personal safety and the well-being of others."

The most commonly abused drugs and substances are Alcohol, Tobacco, Bhang, Glue, Miraa (Khat) and Psychotropic Substances.

A report conducted by the Ministry in March last year, which is yet to be made public, said that 38 per cent of the total 700, 000 civil servants are heavily addicted to drugs. The survey indicated that 85 per cent of the employees have used alcohol, (44.21 per cent male and 30.99 per cent female officers), 11 per cent tobacco products, 9.5 per cent khat and 4 per cent Cannabis Sativa," the report said.

"The survey also established that drug abuse led 38 per cent of the respondents to perform poorly at the workplace with 7 per cent being interdicted. An additional 44 per cent lost valuables and 24 per cent were involved in physical fights. 23 per cent found themselves in conflict with the law, 22 per cent caused accidents, 15 per cent were divorced/separated, while hospital admissions were occasioned by 9.5 per cent while 7 per cent led to the loss of life," the report said.

"This is a strong indication that urgent interventions need to be put in place."

The clients (Employees) shall be managed as either in/outpatients in accredited rehabilitation facilities after signing a Return-to-Work Agreement." Those who fail rehabilitation will in two years be dismissed from the government.

"The unprecedented abuse of both licit and illicit drugs and substances has posed a socio-economic challenge in the community and the workplace has not been spared either," the state said.

The Policy calls for early identification of affected employees and strengthening of Employee Assistance Programmes through medical attention, rehabilitation and cancelling units to ensure a healthy drug-free workforce.

"Alcohol is the most abused substance in the world, rendering a great number in the workplace ineffective," the state said.

The policy will address the well-being of employees and their families as well as ensure a workforce that is free from alcohol and drug abuse.

"Rationale Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA) is a critical problem with adverse effects at the workplace. It has serious physical, emotional and social implications to the well-being of the workforce of any organization," the state said.

Any employee confirmed as intoxicated or suffering from Substance Use Disorders shall be restricted from handling firearms, operating machines, or handling sensitive or classified information to protect themselves and others from harm.

It will also be illegal for anyone to reward state employers at work with drug substances. The state will restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes within government entities.

No officers shall be allowed to discharge services to customers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Supervisors shall promptly institute disciplinary action for officers who violate the Code of Regulations on account of ADA. Any supervisor who occasions loss of Government resources due to failure to report cases of indiscipline of such officers shall be surcharged.

Sick leave for treatment and rehabilitation shall be provided as stipulated in the prevailing human resource regulations. However, any additional sick leave days will be decided on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Authorized Officer with the guidance of the Medical Board

All managers and supervisors will make periodical ADA reports directly to the Principal Secretary.

"This Return-to-work agreement is necessitated by the fact that a public servant has violated a work rule that could result in termination and the employer has given the public servant another chance to work free of alcohol/drugs/substances of abuse," the report said.

"Absence from work if required as part of rehabilitation, will be regarded as medical leave, sick leave, vacation, personal leave or some combination thereof, depending on accrued leave," reads the report.

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