Since the mid 1980’s, heroin has been readily available in the towns along the Kenyan coast. The impact of heroin and other drug use has had dramatic consequences for the local communities in the form of increased HIV transmission through unsafe sex and shared needles, increased crime to support drug habits, and a growing number of people facing illness, imprisonment, and death.
In response, The Omari Project (TOP) was established in 1995 to provide education and services to addicts, families, and communities. It is one of only two drug detox facilities in sub-Saharan Africa. The Omari Project has residential, outpatient, and outreach services all along the coast for treatment and prevention of heroin addiction, and for prevention of HIV transmission. Outreach services offered at these various sites include drug and HIV/AIDS education, risk awareness, advice for withdrawal, provision of condoms, transport to sites for HIV testing, transport to Comprehensive Care Centers for CD4 counts, treatment for opportunistic infections, and Anti-retrovirals, information on home detoxification, one-to-one counseling sessions and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Families can also obtain information and advice, and all can receive referrals. The residential sites offer a place for clients to withdraw in a supportive setting with onsite counseling staff, health services, meals, religious services, activities, regular group and individual counseling.
TOP is a non-governmental organization created with technical and financial support from The Bristol Drugs Project and the British Council, reporting to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes.