Davao lacks facilities for rehab of 10,000 drug users

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 November) – The city needs facilities for the rehabilitation of some 10,000 drug users who have surrendered so far, an official said.

City Councilor Dr. Mary Joselle Villafuerte said in a press conference Monday she is pushing for the passage of an ordinance on mental health to address this lack.

Villafuerte, who chairs the council’s health committee, said the city’s existing rehabilitation center can only accommodate 150 patients.

“They only accept in-patients. We do not have enough facilities to admit thousands of drug users and surrenderees. If they go to private rehab centers, they will be charged P30,000. They cannot afford that. These drug users are from indigent community,” she said.

The official will meet with Department of Health officials to finalize plans and programs on mental health that should be implemented.

Once passed, she said they will employ a community-based approach in dealing with the drug addicts. 

Initial plans include assigning in every congressional district at least one team who will attend to the clients after undergoing training by the state-run Institute for Psychiatric and Behavior Medicine, she said.

Villafuerte said she abhors the killing of drug addicts as addiction is a mental health problem, not just a peace and order issue.

“Drug addiction is a mental health issue. If you are addicted to drugs, probably you are running away from a problem sa pamilya or sa personal life. Therefore, you turn to drugs for solution. We feel that this is a disease. We are going to treat it as a disease,” she said.

She said they are hoping to add mental health as one of the main services being offered in all barangay health centers.

“This is to show that we are not part of the killing of drug addicts and users. We are finding solutions,” she said. 

Once the ordinance is passed, she said the City health Office will assign a psychologist in all districts.

Villafuerte added they are proposing for a P74-million budget next year for health programs, particularly the Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition program.

She said her committee is still completing the implementing rules and regulations for this program which will focus on mothers and infants in far-flung communities.

“When I presented the MNCHN back during my first term (as councilor) in 2014, we had 68 deaths at that time. Meron pang MDG (Millennium Development Goals) na ang target is below 15 but we went above. We have 28 maternal deaths presently,” she said.

She added they want to focus on Lumad who need more support in terms of medical support. 

“We do not want to relax. We feel that IP community still deliver children at home. We do not advice pregnant women to deliver their babies at homes, many of the deaths come from the IP communities,” she said.

She advised mothers to complete the suggested four prenatal check-ups. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)