The Department of Health (DOH) together with the Inter-agency Task Force for the Support and Establishment of DATRCs (as per Executive Order No. 4) formally opens today the 1st Mega Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. This project is in response to the current demand for more drug rehabilitation centers for surrenderers who need in-patient or residential care.

Phase 1 or 25% of the project (2,500 bed capacity building out of 10,000) of the Mega DTRC is completed. The facility is ready to admit up to 500 drug dependents for proper treatment and rehabilitation.

“About 1% of an estimated 3 million drug users will need residential (in-patient) treatment. The rest will be referred either to a community-based or an outpatient rehabilitation program. The primary screening of surrenderers shall be done by trained Barangay Health Workers. The out-patient modality of rehabilitation, which is estimated to cover about 4% of drug users, shall be conducted by health professionals trained and accredited by DOH. The training for both community-based and DATRC-based care is ongoing, conducted by the DOH central and regional offices” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial explained.

The construction of the Mega DATRC began in August this year when a Chinese donor responded to President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drug use and trade. Secretary Ubial went to Beijing China last September 2016 to sign a deed of donation with Mr. Huang Rulun, Chairman of the Board, Century Golden Resources Group. This collaboration involves the construction of buildings with a 10,000 total bed capacity.

The donor, Mr. Huang is a philanthropist who is listed in the Hurun Philantrophy List for 13 consecutive years. He is the 2nd on the latest list behind Alibaba Group Holding, with total donation of US$ 97M last year mainly for the construction of three high schools. He is a privately held real state developer, has invested in 20 5-star hotels and 10 shopping malls.

The DOH allotted funds for the hiring of staff and for the maintenance and other operating expenses of the Mega DATRC. A DOH central office technical working group was created to facilitate its operation. The recruitment of manpower complement for the facility was accomplished by the DOH Regional Office of Central Luzon in time for its launch. Existing DOH DATRCs provided their expertise in training the newly hired personnel towards achieving a comprehensive management and treatment of drug dependents. An addiction specialist from World Health Organization and European Union gave updates to our DATRC heads and will be with them for guidance, up to the end of this year.

The latest data reported by PNP this October shows that more than 700,000 drug users voluntarily surrendered (679,303 users out of the 732,115 surrenderers in Project Tokhang).

As of 2015, there are only 44 DOH-accredited DATRCs in the country. Fifteen out of the 44 said facilities are government-owned that can only serve a total of about 5,300 in-patients, which is insufficient to serve the surrenderers needing in-patient treatment.

The local government units (LGUs), particularly barangay, municipal or city officials, will handle the community-based rehabilitation program (which is estimated to cover about more than 90% of users) with collaboration from non-government organizations, inter-faith groups and volunteers.

“The illegal drug user or the drug dependent is not the enemy. They are the illegal drug abuse victims. Sila po ang nagiging biktima ng drug pushers. Talagang tutulungan po natin sila. This initiative will not only benefit the well-being of these drug victims whom we want to help and reach out to, but also for the change that we envision for our country. Let us work together towards this vision of All for Health towards Health for All! Tandaan po natin: Sa bawal na droga talo ka, ACHIEVE ang pagbabago!” Secretary Ubial concluded.