Senator renews call for more out-patient healthcare programs for drug users

Senator renews call for more out-patient healthcare programs for drug users

MANILA, Dec. 29 (PNA) — A Senator on Thursday has renewed her call to the government to establish more out-patient healthcare programs for drug dependents noting that rehabilitation centers were only for those “extremely addicted” to illegal drugs.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Heath, cited studies that show that only nine percent of suspected drugs users who have surrendered under Oplan Tokhang of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were committed in rehabilitation facilities.

Meanwhile, the 91 percent who did not need institutionalized support merely returned to their communities.

“The government might think that by simply building a mega-drug rehabilitation center and putting all the drug addicts there, it has sufficiently addressed the health needs of the drug users. Yet, what the majority of the drug users actually need are not inpatient care but outpatient healthcare interventions,” Hontiveros stressed.

She noted that the government’s supposed shift to a public health approach in its campaign against illegal drugs should have come first in a comprehensive response.

“The government should have heeded our appeal at the outset and mobilized resources in the funding of out-patient rehabilitation programs and community drop-in centers, as well as harm reduction capacity-building sessions for local governments, health agencies and non-government organizations,” Hontiveros said.

“Ending the killings and holding all those responsible for these atrocities must be done alongside the implementation of a public health agenda on the anti-drugs campaign,” she added. (PNA)