4 drug rehab centers to open in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 April) – The government will open four drug rehabilitation centers in Mindanao in the last quarter of 2017, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said Tuesday.

Ubial told a press conference at the Royal Mandaya Hotel here that the centers are located in Calinan District in Davao City, Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, Sarangani and Agusan del Sur.

Each center has a capacity of 250 to 350 beds and will be built with support from the Chinese government and the private sector, she said.

She said the center in Bukidnon will be funded by a Chinese businessman. The one in Davao will get support from the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and Resorts World Manila, and those in Sarangani and Agusan del Sur rehab centers from the Chinese government.

She said the country has a total of 30 state-run and 14 private rehabilitation centers.

“The private are really very small – less than 1,000 beds,” she said.

Ubial said they will employ a six-month community-based rehabilitation program that must be implemented by the cities and municipalities.

Barangay health workers and officials will assist the “mild” and “moderate” drug users to help them quit using illegal drugs.

She said the Department of Health (DOH) has some P3 billion budget for drug rehabilitation program in 2017, of which 50 percent will go to the community-based program and 50 percent to the residence-based program.

“What is required for city and municipality is to have a community-based rehab program. Our frontline is health workers who will be trained in assessing the surrenderees whether they are mild, moderate, or severe. If severe, they need a residential rehabilitation treatment,” she said.

She said that under a community-based approach, “mild” and “moderate” drug users will be offered short courses at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education to help them recover fast.

Rehab program upgrade

Ubial said DOH is planning to upgrade its drug rehabilitation program that will give drug users a strong lifetime support system to help them fully recover from drug use.

She said they are planning to copy a program implemented by the Japanese government that provides a strong support mechanism to former drug users to ensure they would not return to drug use.

“The concept of Japan is like, once you try drugs, you are (always) vulnerable,” she said.

She said Japan has created a network tasked to follow up former drug users who have undergone the rehabilitation program for life.

She added the support group helps former drug dependents find job opportunities and homes to give them a semblance of normalcy after quitting drugs.

The secretary added they are planning to emulate this kind of support mechanism for drug dependents who have finished the community-based rehabilitation and after-care program.

She said drug users classified as “moderate” and “mild” will be enrolled in a community-based approach while the “severe” drug dependents will receive an after-care treatment in rehab centers.

She said city and municipal health workers play a vital role in the community-based rehabilitation program as they will be tapped to do the assessment and give drug dependents the support so that they can drop the use of drugs.

“What is important is that they have something to do and they are monitored, so that they will not have any access to illegal drugs. They also get tested randomly at any point in time in the community-based rehabilitation program,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)