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DOH Bicol bares gov’t programs for drug surrenderees

LEGAZPI CITY— The Department of Health (DOH) Bicol noted the surging number of voluntary drug surrenderees as an opportunity to solve drug menace in the country but admits need to work double time to intensify intervention programs.

Dr. Napoleon L. Arevalo, DOH Bicol OIC Director, said the intensified program of the national government on illegal drugs has created a sudden influx of people seeking treatment which likewise demand for intensified intervention programs from the government.

“The intervention of the government should not only be corrective but rehabilitative as well,” Arevalo said during the press conference held Monday.

He furthered that pushers and users voluntarily surrendering is a welcome change as they take the first step to stop their illegal activities and undergo needed treatment and recovery.

Unexpected surge of drug surrenderees

In the Bicol region, the Philippine National Police Regional Office 5 (PNP RO5) has recorded some 41, 474 voluntary surrenderees from July 1 – August 21, 2016, of which 2,349 are pushers and 39,125 are users.

Senior Inspector Malu Calubaquib, PNP RO5 information officer, said their office initially expects for some 8,000 personalities in their drugs watch list to surrender. Yet they themselves were shocked as the voluntary drug surrenderees in the region surged to 41, 474.

“We were really shocked that we have a number this huge. That’s how rampant illegal drugs are in the region,” Calubaquib said.

Treatment: How is it done

At present, there are two DOH treatment and rehabilitation centers (TRC). The Malinao TRC in Albay has 100 bed capacity and currently has 69 residents while Camarines Sur TRC in San Fernando has went beyond its 100 bed capacity with 125 current residents.

However, Arevalo said not all drug users need to be admitted to centers as intervention will depend on the level of drug use. Pushers on the other hand will be under PNP’s disposition.

“Drug use is classified into low and moderate to severe levels. Drug use ranging from low to moderate use need not be admitted to TRCs but will instead undergo community based rehabilitation program,” he explained.

Brief interventions for mild drug use, lasting four weeks, include inputs on prohibited substance and addiction, motivational interview, analysis and feed backing and referral system and network. Certificate of Completion will be issued for non-recurrence of drug use after four weeks. If drug use recurred even after 2nd brief intervention, it will be classified as moderate.

“Moderate drug use on the other hand will be provided with outpatient care, lasting 16 weeks. It includes recovery skills, relapse prevention, family programs and recovery plan,” Arevalo said.

Severe drug use is then in need of residential treatment or admittance to TRCs for 10 -12 months. Before admittance, the user need to undergo medical examinations which can be done in DOH retained hospitals including Bicol Medical Center in Naga City, Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Albay and Bicol sanitarium in Camarines Sur.

Arevalo stressed the need for court order issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board to ensure that severe drug users will undergo treatment.

“The court order gives us the “teeth” for users to undergo and finish treatment. Yung iba kasi ilang months pa lang umaayaw na kaya hindi na natatapos ang treatment. (Others refuse to finish treatment.),” he said.

Aside from medical treatments, TRC residents undergo interventions to recover spirituality and personally preparing them to be back to mainstream community.

What has been done

DOH Bicol has initially released its quick response fund and has re-aligned funds allocated in other programs to provide the booming demand for intervention services.

Arevalo said five potential TRCs are underway in the Bicol region including the military camp in Tula-Tula, Albay which will be converted into a TRC. It will have 1000 bed capacity and will initially start with 50 bed capacity. The rest will be established in Caramoran District Hospital in Catanduanes, San Ramon Municipal Hospital in Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte.

Other facilities in the region rendering intervention services are DSWD Center for Boys in Sorsogon City, Facenda de Ezperanza in Masbate, Facenda de Naga, Holy Face Mental Rehab Center in Tabaco City and tanchuling Hospital Detox Unit in Legazpi City.

Also conducted in the region are multi-agency and sectoral consultative conferences, formulation of plan of action/ development of training design and process for screening and community based rehab programs and capacity building for LGUs and health workers.

“At the national level, the DOH has sought P1 billion budget from Pagcor to establish TRCs in the country,” Arevalo added.

PNP Bicol on the other hand will soon be launching the Kasurog kan Kabikolan sa Kampanya Kontra Droga (K4D) Alliance.

“The K4D alliance was crafted in coordination with the media in the region. We will be informing you with the details as soon as we finalize it,” Calubaquib said.

Costs and fees

Subsistence allowance to be paid monthly by public TRC residents is P3, 000.00; so far the lowest among regions. Other government rehab centers charge P5, 000 – P10, 000 monthly.

Arevalo said indigent residents can avail the service for free, shouldered by the DOH, but will need added budget allocation as demand for treatment increases.

Private rehab facilities cost P10,000 – P50,000, depending on the facility and type of rehab required.

Arevalo further calls on local government units to utilize the 2% mandatory allocation for anti-dangerous drugs programs to help in the treatment and rehab of drug users. (by Sally Atento-Altea)


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