TACLOBAN CITY-Banking on the capacity of local government units to help address the rehabilitation needs of drug personalities in their areas, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial emphatically cited the need of cooperation of the local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Health. Ubial, who was the guest of honor during the centennial anniversary celebration of Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) on Saturday (July 16), in a press conference, detailed plans of the national government in meeting the increasing demand for more rehabilitation facilities of the drug surrenderees. “We are talking to all local government units and it is our human resources from Salag that will actually train and help them to establish their own facilities,” she said. Salag (nest) is the lone drug rehabilitation in the region, located in Dulag, Leyte. However, the facility remains out of operations after it sustained damages due to supertyphoon “Yolanda” that pummeled the region in 2013.
From 50 individuals, it will be ready to accept 100 clients.

However, it still not enough to accommodate all the drug personalities considering that those who are giving up are in the thousands. Ubial stressed on the need to first assess the surrenderees they can be managed on a community-based program or should be in a residential-based program. She added that the expertise of Salag staff will be tapped in doing the assessment. DOH also consider getting the assistance of other mental experts who will effectively serve as force multiplier, such as the psychology society, psychiatry society and the education personnel who are trained on brief counseling and assessment. Ubial disclosed that, as of the moment, it is Southern Leyte that has a concrete plan on treatment and rehabilitation facility with the technical help from the Salag people. “That is what we also do in other provinces and cities like Ormoc City, which is thinking of putting up its own facility in a rented structure,” she said. The mayor of the said city, Richard Gomez, is a known crusader against proliferation of illegal drugs. At the national level, she said, DOH is conferring with other agencies, such as the Department of Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as well as private or professional organizations and the academe.
“The idea is to have a cadre of health professionals and non-professionals that are trained in doing the assessment,” she said which is the first step in the entire treatment and rehab of surrenderees.

DOH is networking with TESDA, DepEd and academic institutions because it intends to identify programs for drug surrenderees to undergo training and finish studies while they are in the process of rehabilitation, according to Ubial. EVRMC chief of hospital Gerardo Aquino Jr. said he will still have to check if the hospital’s psychiatry department can already provide services needed in assessing the mental state of the drug personalities. DOH Regional Director Minerva Molon said their office will support the people who already have the baseline skills in identifying psychotic among the surrenderees given their limited resources.  Meantime, Molon appealed to all operators of drug testing facilities to restrain from overpricing in the face of the huge demand for this service alongside the Duterte administration’s all-out war on illegal drugs.