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Punjab

Posted at: May 17, 2018, 2:11 AM; last updated: May 17, 2018, 2:11 AM (IST)MISSION TANDRUST

No takers, rehabs to make way for health centres

Govt to utilise facilities lying idle

The initiative

  • Focus on a holistic drug de-addiction treatment.
  • Chemist shops selling prescription drugs will be on the radar of Nasha Roku Nigran Committees, having village elders as members.
  • At many places, the committees formed to promote open defecation-free areas will be revived to keep tabs on addicts and peddlers.
  • The PWD and NHAI will be asked to use all measures to control dust, which is leading to several diseases especially in rural areas.
  • Quality control on fertilisers and stopping overuse of fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides to prevent food contamination.

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16

With no takers for the in-house drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres across the state, the government will convert these centres, built by the previous Akali-BJP government, into community health centres/dispensaries.

The centres will then be entertaining other patients, besides continuing with outpatient opioid assisted treatment (OOAT) for those seeking drug de-addiction. The focus of drug addiction treatment, which was the rallying point for all political parties in the past two elections, is now on outpatient, as is being outlined in “Mission Tandrust” being launched by the Environment Department, Punjab, on June 5.

This policy experimentation – move from drug rehabilitation centres to OOAT – had drawn flak from even the PGI, Chandigarh. In the past one year, the Congress government came up with the new approach of OOAT and almost 30 such centres have been opened in the state.

This had got thumbs down from the premiere healthcare institute, which distanced itself from the new form of treatment. Trashing the state government’s claims that these centres found no takers, the PGI authorities had, in fact, blamed the state Health Department for failing to make a policy to draw patients to these centres, especially as private de-addiction centres remained brimming with patients.

The authorities, who were on board over the in-patient treatment and rehabilitation policy, had also objected to treatment by MBBS doctors in OOAT centres and the lack of psychological help to drug abuse patients at the new centres.

Explaining the reason for turning rehab centres into healthcare facilities, official sources said more and more patients were seeking outpatient treatment. In 2017, 4.52 lakh patients sought OPD treatment as compared to 1.82 lakh in 2016. Comparatively, the increase in patients seeking treatment in rehab centres, built since 2014, at the cost of almost Rs 90 crore (there are 32 drug de-addiction centres and 22 rehab centres) increased from 3,359 in 2016 to 5,590 in 2017, said a senior official.

“These centres had become white elephants. To provide easy access to healthcare and take the load off the existing healthcare infrastructure, we have decided to post medical and paramedical staff here, along with psychologists and nurses already posted in these centres for treating addicts,” said a top officer.

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