Our attention is drawn to an article that appeared in the media on Sunday 16 July 2017 indicating there is a contradiction between the National Protocol for Treatment of Substance Use Disorders and the KEMRI study findings on the use of Khat.
We therefore wish to clarify as follows:
There is no contradiction between the treatment protocol and the KEMRI study or any other government technical findings, as the protocol only outlines management of health effects of active ingredient, Cathinone, found in the fresh leaves/ twigs of Khat shrub, just as other active ingredients found in other cash crops like coffee, tobacco, which contain caffeine and nicotine respectively.
The KEMRI study conclusion did not contradict biological and pharmacological composition of Khat, and the effect there of.
The aforementioned guidelines are for use by health workers on treatment of the effect of substance abuse and therefore not a legal document to control and regulate Khat farming, trade and use.
The World Health Organization gives member states discretion to provide for laws and policies guiding the farming, trade and use of the Khat shrub. In Kenya, it is legal to farm, sell and use Khat shrub.
In conclusion, this protocol is a technical tool to guide health workers in management of possible untoward health effects if any, resulting from use of any substance with psychoactive ingredients. These guidelines have no effect on the farming and economic gains of Khat farmers in Kenya and they shall be revised from time to time as more research-based evidence becomes available.
Dr. Cleopa Mailu, EBS
Ministry of Health.