IT will take the Philippines 200 years to rehabilitate the estimated 1.3 million drug addicts in the country because of lack of treatment facilities in the country, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto disclosed on Tuesday.
Despite the serious drug problem in the Philippines, according to Recto, there are only 42 drug rehabilitation centers operating in the country, and only 14 centers are run by the government.
Government-run treatment facilities are found only in the National Capital Region (NCR or Mero Manila), Caraga Region and Regions I, IV-A, V, VI, VII, X and XI while public and private rehab centers accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) are also found in these regions and in Region III.
Based on an estimate by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), there are 1,292,752 illegal drug users in the country, and 600,000 have reportedly surrendered to authorities because of the campaign against illegal drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The number of existing rehabilitation centers in the country at present would only translate to a total of 3,216 beds available to drug dependents willing to undergo rehabilitation.
Recto warned that if the number of rehabilitation centers remained the same, “it will take 200 years to rehabilitate all the drug dependents.”
For the 600,000 who had surrendered, it will take the country almost a century to finish treating them all, based on a six-month treatment period.
“The existing ratio of government treatment slots to addicts means that there are 778 would-be patients competing per one bed,” Recto pointed out.
Even in Metro Manila, the senator said, the number of beds available both in government and private facilities would not reach 900, while only 315 slots are available in Mindanao.
Worse, he added, it would also be difficult to immediately address that “national shortage” in drug rehabilitation facilities because of lack of funding.
Recto disclosed that the P635-million budget this year of the DOH for the operation of its drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers “can only help a small fraction of the drug addict population.”
“That funding level was based on the projected normal volume of patients. It did not factor in the tens of thousands of dependents who surrendered to authorities in the hope that they will be helped in weaning themselves of their vice,” he explained.
Recto said most of those who had surrendered couldn’t afford the costly rehabilitation procedure, which should prod the government to construct more rehab centers.