UNODC supports efforts to reduce COVID-19 risk at Kenya methadone clinics

Photo courtesy of the Malindi Sub-County Hospital MAT Clinic

Nairobi (Kenya), 17 April 2020 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC) has donated essential commodities to three methadone clinics on Kenya’s coast to address the immediate COVID-19 prevention needs of their health care workers and clients.

Frequently stretched beyond capacity given the demand for methadone treatment, the Medically Assisted Therapy (MAT) clinics at Kisauni in Mombasa County, Kombani in Kwale County and Malindi in Kilifi County provide services to an estimated 2,800 clients.  

UNODC last week provided 5,000 medical examination gloves, eight automatic sanitizer dispensers, 850 litres of hand sanitizer, 50 bottles of hand washing gel, 20 packs of washing powder soap and a first consignment of N95 face masks. 

Having received the commodities, each MAT clinic has already put them to use in keeping their premises clean and hygienic, and promoting regular and thorough hand-washing by staff and visitors, alongside social distancing measures.  

A further delivery of 6,000 surgical masks, more hand sanitizer gel and the balance of 800 N95 face masks are expected to reach the three MAT clinics and Civil Society Organizations in the coming weeks. 

“People who use and inject drugs are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their underlying medical conditions like HIV and Hepatitis C, further compounded by stigma and social marginalization,” the Head of UNODC’s Health and Social Development Pillar at the Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Dr. Fayzal Sulliman, said. 

“UNODC is pleased to provide this support to meet the immediate needs of these clinics that are providing ongoing services to a vulnerable population in circumstances exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Sulliman said. 

Ensuring continued access to health care during a pandemic, including services for people who use drugs and treatment of drug use disorders, is key not only to protect the health of populations but also to ensure security and stability in the country.   

Learning from recent experience elsewhere in Eastern Africa, UNODC is closely monitoring the supply chain of methadone with the support of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) so that supply is maintained during this global crisis and there is no disruption of services to people who use drugs in the region. 

Globally, UNODC is urging member states to ensure access to preventive commodities and also life support assistance, including intensive care if required, to people who use drugs without discrimination so that no one is left behind during the pandemic.

Further Information

UNODC COVID-19 pandemic guidance on treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorders