TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte: The Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing a P1-billion budget from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to establish treatment and rehabilitation centers for an estimated 1.8 million drug dependents in the country.
“We need new facilities that can cater to about 15,000 dependents. That would mean building new facilities that will cater to three times the current capacity,” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said in news briefing here on Saturday.
The country has 20 drug rehabilitation centers managed by the DOH and local government units, with a capacity to treat a total of 5,000 patients.
Citing estimates by the Dangerous Drugs Board, the Cabinet official said there are 1.8 million drug dependents in the country, with one percent or about 18,000 of them needing in-house treatment.
Given the existing number of rehabilitation facilities, the Health department requires P270 million to carry out “recovery initiatives” for thousands of self-confessed drug dependents. The requirement is expected to triple next year.
The budget request will mainly be used for capacity building of local government units (LGUs) to implement an outpatient program for drug users with less serious addiction problems.
“We asked our staff in DOH Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers to multiply their capacity as we strengthen our support to local government units for them to lead in the community-based rehabilitation,” Ubial said.
Aside from the LGUs, the DOH has also enlisted the support of the Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development, psychiatrists and the academe to assist drug dependents.
“The idea is to have cadre of health workers that are trained to do the assessment. They will evaluate each drug personality if [he is]fit for an outpatient program or a residential program,” Ubial said.
The Health department also wants to standardize the assessment form used for drug dependents who surrender to the authorities.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier identified Pagcor’s earnings as the source of funds for health-related programs, including drug rehabilitation.