TWO DRUG de-addiction centres, plus an Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) centre and a drug rehabilitation centre in Patti Assembly constituency of Tarn Taran district have no doctor since March 10 at a time when the new Punjab government has launched a crackdown on drugs.
Dr Isha Dhawan, who was looking after the de-addiction centre at Patti and Sarhali, is on maternity leave. She was treating patients for three days a week each at Patti and Sarhali. She also had responsibility to decide the dose, Buprenophine, for new patients coming to OST, located in a building bang opposite the de-addiction centre at Patti. At the same time, she had additional charge of the 50-bed drug rehab centre at Bhagupur village near Patti town.
In her absence, Dr Rana Ranbir Singh, head of the de-addiction centre at the civil hospital in Patti, has been asked to visit the de-addiction centre once a week. He cannot admit patients at Patti because he cannot supervise them. So, he has been asking patients in a serious condition to go to Tarn Taran for admission.
The situation in Patti shows the enormity of the challenge the new government faces on the health front in its effort to end the drug menace. It is now apparent, if not before, that the promise of ending durgs in four weeks was unrealistic and the government has to think of a long-haul response that will include both building up resources and capacity, to cut supply and treat and rehabilitate addicts.
“I use to visit the Patti drug de-addiction centre once a week. I have the main charge
of Tarn Taran drug de-addiction centre. But I cannot keep tabs on patients admitted back in Patti. So, it is preferable to get them admitted at Tarn Taran,” said Dr Rana Ranbir Singh.
Only the Tarn Taran de-addiction centre is functional in the whole district with 25 addicts admitted there at present.
“Police are tightening the noose around drug smugglers. So, it is possible that more addicts would come to us for treatment. But, there is no regular doctor. We ask patients to come only on Wednesday to consult Dr Rana,” said an employee at the Patti de-addiction centre.
“We have a total of 935 heroin addicts enrolled at the OST since 2013. Around 415 of them were admitted in
2014 when the police had launched a crackdown on the addicts and smugglers after the Parliament elections in which the ruling alliance suffered a setback on the drug issue. So, there may be a similar reaction this year, too. But we have no permanent doctor here so far,” said a staff member at the OST centre.
Patti is one of the most affected towns of Punjab reeling under drug addiction. Four-time sitting SAD MLA Adesh Partap Singh Kairon lost the seat to Congress’s Harminder Singh Gill. The latter had pitched his campaign on drug addiction in Patti.
A fresh addict is usually admitted at the de-addiction centre for 10 to 15 days to wean him away from addiction. If he manages to cross this stage, he is taken to a rehab centre for a three-month treatment. There are no patients at the rehab centre in Bhagupur.
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