Friday, July 29, 2016

Philippines - Bill making drug rehab affordable filed

AS 60,000 self-confessed drug users surrendered to the Philippine National Police in the past month with the implementation of the anti-illegal drugs drive "Operation Tokhang," drug rehabilitation facilities are now in short supply.

With this development, Senator Vicente Sotto III has filed a bill making drug rehabilitation more affordable.

Sotto filed Senate Bill 8, which proposes that Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC), beneficiaries who are drug dependents and who submit themselves to treatment and rehabilitation to an accredited health care provider shall be charged with a reasonable and affordable cost.

Sotto's bill seeks to amend the Republic Act 7875, an Act instituting a National Health Insurance Program for all Filipinos and establishing the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for the purpose was amended by Republic Act 9241.

This amendment highlighted the inclusion of drug abuse and dependency treatment as among those personal services covered. It also recognized rehabilitation centers as health institutions that are considered as health care providers.

"One of the pervading social ills at present is the rampant drug addiction. Various laws have been passed to prevent and control this drug menace. What has been overlooked however and has not been properly addressed is the rehabilitation of drug dependents," Sotto said.

Sotto believes that the problem of illegal drugs and drug abuse cannot be solved by law enforcement alone but instead it should be accompanied with preventive education, prosecution and rehabilitation.
Sotto added that the government should also provide facilities and medical treatment to ensure their complete recovery and eventual social reintegration.

All over the Philippines, across the regions are private and government-run rehabilitation centers. However, based on a 2009 survey, there are 1.7 million drug dependents. Of this, only 2000 underwent treatment and rehabilitation. The cost of treatment and rehabilitation discourages families of drug dependents to avail of the same.

The constitution mandates "that the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost."

The bill further proposes amendment to specifically include rehabilitation treatment as among the enumerated categories of personal health services to ensure its beneficiaries of affordable rehabilitation treatment.

This bill also calls for the application for accreditation of Rehabilitation Centers in order that PhilHealth members will be accorded the proposed benefits.

Senator Cynthia Villar, for her part, has suggested the training of drug users who surrendered to learn farming from farm schools to rehabilitate them.

"We have heard a lot of testimonies coming from individuals whose lives have changed after participating in free trainings on agriculture. This is also a livelihood opportunity for drug users who want to start anew," Villar said.

Villar said after signing an affidavit that they will not go back to illegal drugs and undergoing counseling or rehabilitation, drug suspects can also become beneficiaries of government scholarship on agriculture.
Villar cited the Duran Farm in San Ildefonso, Bulacan. Its owner, Desiree Duran, have started talking to mayors to offer scholarship slots on agriculture especially for drug users who want to change and become productive citizens.

The 3.6-hectare Duran Farm is the first accredited Farm Tourism Site in Central Luzon. It gives a 2-month certificate course on agriculture production. Duran said after it became a destination for "agri-turistas," the community was revitalized and businesses such as sari-sari stores, dormitories, and canteens, grew in the area.

"We welcome people from all walks of life in our farm. We want to show the people that a job in agriculture is profitable," Duran said.

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