TODAY -

'Drug users continue to be at risk during this pandemic'
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, October 12 2020: "There are more than 70 rehabilitation centres (funded and non-funded) in Manipur.

COVID-19 testing for drug users at the rehabilitation centres has not been formally and officially initiated by the concerned department and authorities in the State.

As a result, drug users continue to be at risk during the times of COVID-19 pandemic.

One glaring example is the reported COVID-19 positive cases reported at rehabilitation centres in the State" .

This was stated by Rajiv Takhellambam of Kangleipak Drug Awareness and Prevention (KADAP) speaking at a press meet held today at Ipa Ibungo Mid Way Home of Makers Foundation, Loitang Khunou Mayai Lekai, Imphal West organised by Kangleipak Drug Awareness and Prevention (KADAP) and Makers Foundation.

He further said that detoxification and rehabilitation services are basic rights and services for drug users, which cannot be denied even during the times of COVID-19 pandemic.

The press meet was held as a part of an ongoing "Shelter Home and Detoxification Camp" for the drug users and alcoholic community in Manipur at Ipa Ibungo Mid Way Home of Makers Foundation, which was started on 21st September, 2020 .

The camp is programmed for 45 days in three batches and is likely to be extended.

Sidarth Konjengbam of KADAP said KADAP and Makers Foundation have been jointly organizing 'Shelter Home and Detoxification Camp' for drug users and alcoholic community of the State.

This is the third time we're organizing such camps", he said.

"The aim of the camp is to undertake COVID-19 test for the community, provide detoxification services, provide brief shelter and refer to concerned rehabilitation centres for further treatment.

Services, either on free or subsidised rates, so far have been provided to more than 50 drug users as a model treatment.

At the ongoing camp 18 inmates were COVID-19 tested", he said.

"As we mobilise the resources, we're providing the services on limited resources.

As such, we believe it is the right time for the Government to intervene in the interest of the drug users and alcoholic community".

Luckyson Warokpam of Makers Foundation speaking at the press meet said, "one of the main reasons to initiate and continue with such a programme is the continuation of risk behaviour and visibility of drug users and alcoholic community on the streets and containment zones during the present COVID-19 pandemic.

Further, there is fear of community transmission occurring among the drug users and alcoholic community".

He added, "our initiative has been undertaken with the knowledge that there exist no specific guidelines or measures to safeguard the vulnerable drug users' sub-population during COVID-19 pandemic or similar humanitarian crisis in Manipur.

We believe the programme will help the inmates for further referrals to designated rehabilitation centres once tests for COVID-19 have been undertaken".

The organisers of the camp published four recommendations in the interest of the stakeholders and concerned authority/department in the State.

1) Current inmates and staffs (including the volunteers) should be COVID-19 tested immediately in all the rehabilitation centres by the Government, so as to segregate, isolate and treat the positive cases.

2) All drug users should be COVID-19 tested before admitting at the rehabilitation centres.

This will help in curbing the spread of COVID-19 transmission amongst the drug users population in the rehabilitation centres 3) Exclusive COVID-19 treatment centres for drug users should be opened for all COVID-19 positives cases.

This will help in providing proper treatment and care for such marginalised, discriminated and stigmatised populations.

4) Referral points for drug users such as the current detoxification camp should be opened in multiple places to ease COVID-19 tests amongst the drug users before admitting to rehabilitation centres.

The testing should be done every seven days at such camps and referral points with proper arrangement and support from the concerned Government Department.

This will help in ease of testing of such hidden and hard to reach drug user populations.


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