The Department of Health conducted a two-day orientation in Negros Oriental to address the growing concern over what to do with the rising number of drug users, who have surrendered to the police in the past two weeks.
The orientation on the community-based rehabilitation program aims to complement the efforts of President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa, to eradicate the illegal drugs problem in the country.
The two-day orientation, held in Dumaguete City Thursday and Friday last week, identified the steps or the processes a self-confessed drug user will follow after that person has surrendered to the police, Dr. Socrates Villamor, OIC chief, Local Health Support Division of the DOH-Negros Island Region, said.
This is now the answer to public outcry at the onset of the massive surrender of “drug users and pushers” in Negros Oriental on what will happen to them after they were profiled and processed by the police, Villamor pointed out.
This is a “marching order” by Duterte to the DOH as the number of persons who have turned themselves in to the police for processing continues to skyrocket by the day, Villamor said.
But, Villamor made it clear the community-based rehabilitation program, undertaken along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, is designed only for the “drug users”, or those who do not carry with them “legal implications”.
He said a “drug user”, after profiling by the police, will be referred to the city or municipal health officer or the rural health unit officer for initial assessment. Any of these doctors are provided with a “tool” to make the initial assessment, after which that person will be referred to DOH-accredited doctors or specialists, who have undergone training on how to deal with illegal drug use and drug abuse patients, Villamor added.
He said the DOH-accredited doctor will then determine through diagnostics tests and screening if one is to be admitted to a rehabilitation center, or whose rehabilitation shall be managed at the local level, by the CHO or MHO.
Patients requiring a specialized addiction rehabilitation program are then recommended to a rehabilitation center of their choice, whether government or private.
Villamor lamented there is no government-run drug rehabilitation center in Negros Oriental.
There is a private drug rehabilitation center in Dumaguete, but Villamor admits it would entail costs and many of the drug users may use “poverty” as an excuse to avoid the rehabilitation process.
For those who can afford the travel and other costs, there are three government-owned drug rehabilitation centers in Cebu, Villamor said.
He cannot, however, say whether these government-owned facilities are for free.
Meanwhile, participants to the orientation were asked to submit their plans on how to carry out the community-based rehabilitation program in their areas.
Villamor also assured he will find out if there are DOH-accredited doctors in the province who can participate in the program.
Speakers during the two-day orientation were from the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.*JFP
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