By Philippine News Agency
TACLOBAN CITY — Only half of the 34,808 self-confessed drug users in Eastern Visayas have been assessed by the Department of Health (DOH) despite urgency to provide recovery interventions to former drug dependents.
DOH Assistant Regional Director Paula Paz Sydiongco said the assessment of drug surrenderers is moving slowly than expected due to lack of trained health professionals.
Of the 34,808 drug dependents who turned themselves in to authorities, 18,265 or 52 percent have been checked by health workers. The assessment aims to find out the kind of assistance needed by a drug user.
Through assessment, health authorities can determine whether the surrenderer will be referred to a community-based program, out-patient, or government rehabilitation.
Those found suffering serious drug addiction have been referred to the DOH-run Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Dulag, Leyte — the only state-run facility meant for full recovery of drug users.
“We are concerned about the 48 percent who have not received any intervention from a health professional months or even years after they surrendered,” Sydiongco said on Thursday.
Even after training thousands of doctors, nurses, social workers, and other DOH personnel, their number is still not enough to reach out to all former drug users.
“Another strategy is to train our DOH representative assigned in clustered areas and even some village health workers on how to assess surrenderers. More local government units workers have been trained on rehabilitation process,” Sydiongco added.
The central government has been pushing for community-based rehabilitation.
Under its long-term plan, the DOH is proposing to build drug rehabilitation complexes in the cities of Tacloban, Baybay, and Ormoc in Leyte; Maasin in Southern Leyte; and, Catbalogan and Calbayog in Samar. The same facilities will rise in the capital towns of Naval in Biliran and Catarman in Northern Samar.
To prevent any relapse, the complex will house a re-entry center and aftercare building to facilitate the re-integration of patients to the community.