Health department to construct more rehab centers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — There is going to be one treatment and rehabilitation center in every region in the country by 2017, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Four new DOH rehabilitation centers will be constructed, while the 14 existing DOH rehabilitation centers will be renovated and upgraded.

DOH Asec. Elmer Punzalan admitted they have long known that there is a need to upgrade these facilities.

"The budget allocation for drug rehabilitation center, sinasabi ko nga po [I am saying] we were even marginalized. Sinasabi ko noon [I've said before], there is a need. Pero [but] this time, it's a reality,"

Punzalan admitted that the rising number of drug dependents surrendering is a problem they have to face.

"We are now supposed to do catch-up plans and be compliant. But napakahirap po kasi [but it's really hard because] thousands are surrendering," Punzalan said.

For the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the bigger problem is the drug dependents who need outpatient and community-based intervention.

Citing Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency data, DDB Chairman Benjamin Reyes said of the 3.7 million drug users, only 0.6 to one percent or about 37,000 need in-patient treatment and rehabilitation program.

Around 10 percent are out-patients who still need facility-based treatments. The remaining 90 percent are outpatients who need a structured community-based program.

"When we presented dilemma to the World Health Organization, they observed that we were heavily into in-patient rehab program. What we would require is more outpatient and community-based intervention," Reyes said.

Reyes said there is a need for more funding for the community-based and outpatient intervention.

"If we can prevent these drug dependents from progressing into their addiction, we would not require as many in-patient programs," Reyes said.

No show in rehab treatments

Reyes added, another problem is, while hundreds of thousands have already surrendered, only a few are willing to undergo intervention.

He said, "In Antipolo, there were 8,000 surrenderees when Oplan Tokhang was done. Pero noong bibigyan na ng intervention, only 30 ang bumalik for intervention. Sabi namin, bakit ganoon?"

[Translation: But when we were about to give intervention, only 30 showed up. We said, why is that happening?]

Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop said this is because some drug pushers still continue to peddle drugs.

"Dahil ang nakita nila, walang nangyayari sa binibilihan nila na drug pushers. Hindi kasi nahuhuli kaagad. Kaya nakikita nila, nandoon pa rin. Nagbebenta pa rin," Acop said.

[Translation: Because they see that nothing is happening to the drug pushers whom they buy drugs from. They are not apprehended right away. So the users still see them. They still sell.]

House Dangerous Drugs Committee Chairman Ace Barbers said this also happens in other areas.

"I think that goes the same sa mga probinsya [in the provinces] and other cities nationwide kasi may ganoong problema talaga [because this problem really exists]," Barbers said.

Because of this, Barbers said, he plans to invite local government executives to shed light on what's happening in their localities insofar as the anti-drug campaign and rehabilitation efforts are concerned.