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DOH: Rehab centers open to drug users, even those with court cases

MANILA, April 3 (PNA) -- Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial on Monday affirmed that drug dependents who need rehabilitation as “inpatients” will be allowed to enter rehab centers even if they have pending court cases.

In an interview, Ubial cited a provision in a Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) resolution that states that patients found by health professionals to need residential care or rehabilitation could be admitted to DOH treatment and rehabilitation facilities, even if they have cases pending against them in court.

The health chief however reiterated that everything will depend on the result of the assessment of health professionals, as well as the recommendation of the court.

“If they are criminally liable, then they will be transferred to jails, but if the assessment finds that they are not hardened criminals, then they can be admitted in our drug rehabilitation centers,” she said.

DDB chair, Dr. Benjamin Reyes, stressed the importance of assessing the criminal liability of the drug users for the security of other “mild” drug dependents undergoing rehabilitation.

“It is very important that they do not become a security risk to others in the drug rehabilitation (centers),” he pointed out.

Reyes further said that time spent in rehab centers could be deducted from the sentence of those facing court cases.

According to the DOH, of the estimated 4 million drug users in the country, 1.6 million have been assessed and only 12,000 of them are undergoing treatment in 44 government rehabilitation facilities, while about 99 percent of the figure are in community-based rehabilitation centers.

“We believe that most of those who have surrendered voluntarily are the mild ones. And maybe the hardened users are those who are still at large and not in rehab centers. That is why we still continue and need the help of the police,” said Ubial.

She acknowledged that much needs to be done in the rehabilitation of other drug surrenderers.

“That is why we are still accepting donations from our partners and donors because we expect that this problem will not go away very soon. There is still a lot of room for improvement and development,” she said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has donated 1.85 billion yen (PHP826 million) for the establishment and enhancement of drug rehabilitation facilities and the training of DOH health workers involved in drug rehab. (PNA)
LEILANI S. JUNIO

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