TODAY -

NGOs highlight need for separate quarantine centres for drug users
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, April 02 2020: DAARCFoM, and Com-munity Response on COVID-19 (CROC-19), a committee comprising of eight civil society organi-zations namely Social Awareness Service Organi-zation (SASO), Kripa Society, Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+), Care Foundation, Users Society for Effective Response (USER Manipur), Dedicated People's Union (DPU), Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) and Makers Foundation, have conveyed that while the initiative of police personnel with the help of certain organizations in picking up many homeless drug users and keeping them in various drug rehabilitation centres is definitely praiseworthy, it would be a wise decision on the part of the authority concerned, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, to set up a separate quarantine or isolation centre for the drug users to contain further spread of the virus from any infected drug user.

A statement issued by the two associations conveyed that through local media, it was learned that homeless drug users are being picked up by police with the help of certain organizations of the State and are being kept at various drug rehabilitation centres where many are already lodged for rehabilitation.

Under such situation, it is possible for the coronavirus to spread among the inmates of the centre from those newly recruited homeless drug users if any of them happens to be a carrier of the virus, at a time when the whole world including the State Government, is asking the people to maintain social distancing to curb the pandemic.

This act of the authority will have serious repercussions if not responded swiftly, it reasoned.

The Government can set up separate quarantine or isolation centres for the drug users where all necessary preventive measures for combating the pandemic are put in place, it mentioned.

In order to set up such a quarantine centre and maintain social distancing as far as possible, the State Government must identify schools and colleges and take up detoxification campaigns in the identified centres so that those drug users picked up by police and organizations can be shifted to these centres instead of putting them in drug treatment centres where there are already many inmates so as to reduce the risk of spreading the virus among the community.

The associations continued that there are also reports claiming that many of the drug rehabilitation centres running under the sponsorship/funding of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Department of Social Welfare have closed down in the wake of the total shut down imposed in the State in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is very unfortunate that the Social Welfare Department has been maintaining stoic silence on the matter, it added.

The associations also opined that none of the existing privately run drug rehabilitation centres should admit new clients in their respective centres during this time of the pandemic and the authority concerned should also ensure that none of the rehabilitation centres get shut owing to shortage of essential commodities such as food, water and cooking gas.

They further appealed to the authority concerned to come up with specific strategies to convert all the closed down centres into quarantine or isolated centres and to entertain all picked up drug users including the homeless for their safety as well as for the welfare of all.

Finally, the associations drew attention of the Government on the need for social distancing among the drug user community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If this practice is not followed among this community, the global, National and State initiative to contain COVID-9 would go in vain, it concluded.

Meanwhile, lauding the 'swift and efficient' response of the Government in facing COVID-19 pandemic, DRUM_P (Drug Rehabilitation Centres' Union Manipur, Private) has also appealed the State Government to open up Quarantine Detoxification Centres to accommodate active drug users and those needing drug related intervention/treatment.

DRUM_P in a statement today, suggested that the IRCAs (Government sponsored rehabilitation centres) that are currently shut down in the wake of lockdown be utilises as the Quarantine Detoxification Centres.

Asserting that admission of new clients/drug users at rehabilitation centres may compromise the safety and precautions being taken up the centres, DRUM_P appealed all concerned that no new clients be brought in at the centres.

There are more than 2,000 drug users currently seeking treatment in privately run rehabilitation centres across the State.

Mass discharge of the drug users from these centres in the prevailing scenario may prove detrimental to the efforts of the State Government to contain the spread of COVID 19, it said.

Private rehabilitation centres are currently facing serious problems due to the prevailing situation and are in dire need of support from State authorities concerned.

Scarcity and price hike of essential supplies particularly food grain is hampering the functioning of the centres, it added urging Government for solutions.

DRUM_P is ready to provide human resources in functioning of the proposed Quarantine Detoxification Centres and the re-opening of the Government sponsored rehabilitation centres if required, it said.


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