UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI REMARKS BY THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROF. PETER M.F. MBITHI DURING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING

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1 UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI REMARKS BY THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROF. PETER M.F. MBITHI DURING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING HELD AT KIKUYU CAMPUS ON FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016 AT 9.00 A.M.

2 2 The Deputy Vice-Chancellors present, Principals, Deans and Directors, Invited guests, Staff and students, Ladies and Gentlemen

3 3 Let me start by welcoming you all to this important function when we are celebrating the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit trafficking. I want to thank you for joining us to remember all those who have been affected by Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA) and all those who are still struggling with the effects of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. A lot of work has been done but real a crisis still exists in many parts of the world including Kenya.

4 4 This year s theme Let s develop our lives and our communities without drugs is a message that brings hope to many people. Indeed, it is possible to win this war against alcohol and substance abuse. It is also a clarion call to all of us, to join in this march towards a drug free Kenya, a drug free University. Ladies and Gentlemen, substance abuse and the illicit trafficking of drugs is an evil in our society and disorientation among a majority of the youth. Drug trafficking is an industry working generally on a vicious cycle of manufactured demand and then supply.

5 5 In view of the growing menace and the deterioration of the quality of life, the General Assembly at the United Nations, in December 1987 designated 26th June to be marked as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This resolution also recommended further action to be undertaken with regard to the report and conclusions of the 1987 International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

6 6 The day as an event is increasingly acknowledged worldwide with much conscious fervor to make people aware of the hazards of drug addiction and illegal trafficking. It remains a major challenge to humanity and a poison to the well-being of the youth in particular, posing problems to the socio-economic and political stability of a nation and disturbing its sustainable development. This is what encouraged the Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to take up their work on international drug control with

7 7 greater dedication, urging all governments to provide maximum possible financial and political support. Ladies and gentlemen, drug abuse and illicit trafficking continues to have a profoundly negative impact on development and stability across the world and especially on youth, mainly teenagers and young adults. This means alcohol and drug abuse (ADA) mainly affects an economically productive population.

8 8 These groups of people usually go into drugs as a result of peer pressure. Lack of information or unavailability of accurate information on the adverse consequences of ADA may result in peer indulgence. ADA is associated with individual, family, community and societal consequences. The UNODC has, over the years, been vigorously involved in inducting campaigns to facilitate support for drug control. Besides national governments, the event has also permeated to subsidiary establishments, organizations and individuals in many countries which

9 9 have been regular participants in promotional events and larger scale activities, such as public rallies and mass media involvement, to promote the awareness of dangers associated with illicit drugs. The 21st century with its greater communication and technical skills, has also enabled a greater dissemination of information on Alcohol and Drug Abuse worldwide. Governments have a responsibility to counteract both drug trafficking and drug abuse, but communities can also make a major contribution. Families, schools, civil society and religious organizations should do their part

10 10 to rid their communities of drugs. Businesses can also help provide legitimate livelihoods. The University of Nairobi joins the world in acknowledging the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. We also have programs on sensitization and public education campaigns on drugs and related issues.

11 11 The University of Nairobi has a comprehensive approach to address the range of drug related challenges through implementation of strategic policies, drug abuse/use prevention and management activities. The lives of youth and career progression are destroyed by absconding from learning institutions or death through drug-related accidents. Drug and alcohol abuse is not conducive to an academic atmosphere. It can impede the learning process, disrupt and disturb academic interests.

12 12 It may impede an employee's ability to perform in a safe and effective manner, and may result in injuries to others. Early identification and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse is in the best interests of the student, employee and the university. The billions of dollars generated from illicit drugs fuel terrorist activities and other crimes such as human trafficking and the smuggling of arms and people. Illicit drugs and related criminal networks undermine the rule of law in various countries and the abusers

13 13 cause tremendous fear, corruption, conflicts, negative outcomes at various levels in the society. Ladies and gentlemen, efforts to promote development and fight drugs and crime will be more effective if they are entrenched in partnerships with relevant stakeholders including the young, civil society, governments and the international community.

14 14 The University takes seriously the issue of alcohol and other drug use and abuse, as these behaviors can interfere with an individual s ability to succeed in college both in and out of the classroom. Recognizing the prominence of alcohol use and abuse in our society and that policy does not necessarily dictate behavior, we deem the education of our students on these issues to be of paramount importance.

15 15 To be most effective, we believe it is critical to establish an environment that allows for this topic to be freely addressed. The University seeks to encourage and sustain an academic environment that both respects individual freedom and promotes the health, safety, and welfare of all community members. UoN is focused on establishing an environment that fosters academic excellence while educating our students on the complexities of alcohol and other drug use.

16 16 The University is committed to maintaining a campus environment that is free of illegal drugs, and of drugs and alcohol that are used illegally. Violation of the University's alcohol and drug prohibitions is cause for disciplinary or other appropriate action. All students and employees share responsibility for adhering to and enforcing the Alcohol and Drug Abuse University Policy. Employees and students in violation of the University's policy may also be subjected to University disciplinary action.

17 17 The University recognizes the need for continuous education in regard to alcohol and other drug use and seeks to educate the community about alcohol use, abuse, and the impact these choices have on the educational environment. The university has increased the number of counsellors available in all university campuses to assist those who seek help for ADA and other concerns that may affect academic performance and well being of the individual and image of the institution.

18 18 The university has interventions targeted to increase awareness and to further inform students, faculty, and staff regarding current usage, trends of alcohol and other drug use in higher education, and what each can do to lessen the risk of negative impacts. Help is always available so let us work together to develop our lives and our communities without drugs.

19 19 Thank you and have a blessed day. PETER M.F MBITHI, PhD, EBS VICE-CHANCELLOR AND PROFESSOR OF VETERINARY SURGERY

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