MANILA – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his department is open to the idea of "reconfiguring" the mega drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija province.
"Yung malalaking (The large) drug rehab centers should probably be reconfigured so they can provide services for the more difficult cases of drug addiction," Duque told reporters during an interview Wednesday.
The health chief said that he did not see the need to take down the mega drug rehab center only because some sectors see it as a "mistake".
"Let's just try to make the most out of it,” he said, adding that the bigger rehab centers and those that are community-based should complement each other.
He, however, agreed with what outgoing Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chief Dionisio Santiago said on the need for smaller community-based rehabilitation centers.
"The community-based services are also good since they will need family support, community support and they are more targeted," said Duque.
Santiago earlier said having a large drug rehabilitation facility was "impractical" and a "mistake" and the funds for the Nueva Ecija facility could have been used to fund community-based rehabilitation programs for 150 to 200 people.
The PHP1.4-billion Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija that was opened nearly a year ago, was a donation of Chinese billionaire and philanthropist Huang Rulun to the Duterte administration.
In a separate interview last Monday, former health secretary, Dr. Paulyn Ubial said that when they began talking about the rehab center with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), DDB, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), they envisioned a 2,000-bed facility.
"Pero nung nag-present ang donor na it can accommodate 10,000, hindi naman natin tinanggihan, kasi nga nagdo-donate sila. Right now, it is operating on a 500-bed capacity and if needed, pwede i-increase up to 1,000 beds. Yung ibang facilities naman, may paggagamitan naman. I think there are talks to convert them into training centers, to use for outpatient care (But when the donor said the facility could accommodate 10,000, we did not refuse because it was a donation. Right now, it is operating on a 500-bed capacity and if needed, it could be increased up to 1,000 beds. As for the other facilities, there are several ways to use them. I think there are talks to convert them into training centers, for outpatient care)," Ubial explained. (PNA)