Published today on PBS News Hour and part of a long term personal project on drug use and the harm reduction programmes working tirelessly to mitigate the problem from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu in Kenya.
Suffering withdrawal, Buska Ismail waits for the clinical officer to treat a wound on his back at the Watamu Drop-In Center, Kenya.
He fights the pain as a clinical officer applies antiseptic to the wound. Buska is a 32 year old heroine addict. He works in the tourism industry as a guide and in high season he can afford to shoot up six times a day but when the tourists stop coming in the low season and the cash drys up he is forced to face unintentional detoxification.
Ludovick Tengia a counselor at the Watamu Drop-In Center explains to Injecting drug user Hajji Fadhil Mohammed (pictured) about safe practices. Hajji is part of a needle exchange and harm reduction programme that teaches drug users how to inject safely.
Two injecting drug users, Ahmed Mohamed and Shee Omar assist one another in a drug den in Malindi. Shee is known as ‘the doctor’ and regularly takes on the role of injecting his friends safely.
A crystalline powdered form of heroine they call “white crest” appeared on the market in the 1990’s. Unlike ‘brown sugar’ (heroine used for smoking), ‘white crest’ can only be injected and the consequences have had devastating effects on the community.