Patiala, May 20
The government has decided to extend its outpatient opioid assisted treatment (OOAT) clinics to primary health centres (PHCs). Currently, OOAT clinics are operating at the district hospital and sub-divisional hospitals (SDHs) only. The OOAT clinics are the centres wherein rehab programmes are run for the drug addicts.
To kick start the programme at the PHC, medical officers have already been trained by the Health Department. Currently, around 225 OOAT clinics are operating in the state and around 1.5 lakh drug addicts are taking medicines from these clinics every day.
However, health officials — who have to implement the programme — have raised security concerns over starting OOAT clinics at PHCs and CHCs. The Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association, an association of government doctors, has already raised their concerns.
The association said the Health Department was hell-bent to extend OOAT clinics at the already resource starving PHCs. Dr Akhil Sareen, state president of the PCMS Association, said, “The PCMSA wholeheartedly supports the government in its endeavour to combat the menace of drug addiction in the state. However, the government needs to concurrently address various issues related to it as well. Without adequate staff and infrastructure, OOAT clinics will add burden to the existing staff of PHCs. Besides, adequate security arrangements — security personnel and CCTV cameras — should be made before starting OOAT clinics at PHCs.”
Along with the PCMS Association, the Government De-Addiction and Rehabilitation Employees Union, Punjab, have also opposed the move. Parminder Singh, state president of the association, said, “The government has ignored the genuine demands of the employees working at the OOAT clinics. The fight against the drugs will not be successful without adequate staff. Besides, they should regularise the existing staff of the OOAT clinics.
Meanwhile, some committees of gurudwaras, where primary health centres were being run from gurudwara premises, have already objected to the decision.
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