Nairobi City County opens the first public rehabilitation centre for substance abuse victims in informal settlements


Drug and substance abuse are becoming a pandemic worldwide with the global number of people who will use illicit drugs predicted to increase by 11% by 2030, reaching 299 million people (Bonfiglio, Mascia, & Penna, 2022). Due to its negative consequences on every element of life and development, substance and drug abuse has drawn the attention of different sectors within nations. To stop this menace, prevention, efficient treatment, and rehabilitation are consequently necessary.


In Kenya, alcohol and drug addiction poses a serious threat to security, the economy, and the public health. Among the health consequences of drug and substance abuse are psychological problems, liver cirrhosis, tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). According to the 2022 National Survey on the Status of Drugs and Substance Use in Kenya by NACADA, about 2,137,223 youth were using at least one drug or substance abuse in Kenya. The 25-35 years age group representing youth out-of-school was identified as a vulnerable group for drugs and substance use and dependence. The five-year survey reported the highest prevalence of at least one drug or substance-of-abuse in Nairobi at 19.1%.

The region had the highest prevalence of alcohol use disorders (18.4%) and the highest prevalence of manufactured legal alcohol (10.3%) (NACADA, 2022).


In Nairobi City County, drug and substance abuse is very prevalent in the informal settlements due to the high level of idleness and unemployment, ease of access and low cost of illicit substances. As a result, many people in these areas end up being drug dependent. Though part of the affected population may be willing to change their behaviours through rehabilitation, this has proved to be impossible due to the high cost of rehabilitation services. One of the factors hindering the rehabilitation of drug addicts in low-income areas is the lack of a public facility where the services can be obtained since rehabilitation services in the private sector are very expensive.

Response and Actions (Solution Path)

The most important strategy to deal with drug and substance abuse is prevention, effective treatment and rehabilitation. Here, the major focus was on treatment and rehabilitation, because the challenge was already there and the main remedy was to help the affected population recover from the menace.


To implement the programme, the Nairobi City County Liquor Board utilised one of the County health facilities. The Board identified the Sinai Health Centre in Viwandani Ward, Embakasi South Sub-County, because it is located near several informal settlements like Viwandani, Mukuru kwa Njenga and Mukuru kwa Reuben, where rehabilitation services are highly needed.


As a new rehabilitation centre for outpatient services, infrastructure and critical amenities were put in place and medical personnel deployed. The County used KSh39 million for equipment and operationalization. Other infrastructure was in place. Being the first Nairobi City County-owned rehabilitation centre, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were set to guide the operation of the facility, which was operationalised in 2023. The services at the rehabilitation centre also include counselling, and are offered free of charge, which has enabled access for all affected people irrespective of their financial situation. This is unlike before because 95% of rehabilitation services in the country are offered by private entities which charge up to KSh 100,000 for a three-month session, hence many people from low-income areas cannot afford it.


After the operationalisation of the facility, public sensitisation was conducted throughout the County. The main aim was to inform and enlighten the people on the existence of a County-owned rehabilitation facility and the services offered. The public sensitisation also focused on enlightening people on various drug and substance abuse-related issues, such as depression, lung and heart diseases, cancers, etc.

Sustainability measures for the Sinai Rehabilitation Centre

1. The facility is currently registered and licensed by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council (KMPDC).

2. Professional protocols developed by the public health sector for optimal operationalization and running of the facility.

3. There’s a Facility Management Committee to oversee the effective running of the facility for the long run.

4. Recruitment of staff and partnering with other departments and organizations to second human resources to the facility.

5. Partnerships with other government agencies for continuous support of the facility activities, as well as in reintegration of the patients back into society.

6. Giving priority to the local community so they feel engaged and involved in the facility’s activities.

7. The Rehabilitation Centre is managed by the Health, Wellness, and Nutrition sector, which has the expertise and necessary infrastructure to run the facility, maximizing its impact on the community

Relevant County:
Relevant Sector:
Date of Publication:
8 February, 2023

Nairobi County

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