The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration plans to move the drug treatment and rehabilitation centre from the provincial Military Police headquarters to a new location as the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation is preparing the centre for a transition to provincial management.
Social affairs department director Sam Sarphea told The Post on December 17 that the provincial administration had held a meeting with his department to create a working group and establish the procedures for the transition.
“For the upcoming year, the ministry will transfer this centre to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration.
“Previously, the centre had received funding from the state through the social affairs ministry and it was managed by the Provincial Military Police and based at its headquarters,” he said, citing overcrowding as the reason to change its location.
The provincial administration is finding a new location for the centre and will widely expand its services to accommodate more people.
Once a location has been determined, the working group will inspect it and make sure that it is safe and that it has access to water and electricity.
“In this initial phase, the department will prepare standard letters concerning management of the new centre because at present the old one is under Military Police management.
“The administration has management procedures it must follow and this sort of thing is not a common occurrence,” he said.
Sarphea said the centre has so far received over 80 people who have come for rehabilitation and treatment for addiction to drugs.
The past few months, the number of patients has declined because they stopped receiving new intake in anticipation of this changeover. Those who have recovered have returned home.
Provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun urged the working group to be prepared to build any necessary infrastructure required to guarantee the safety of the staff and patients and ensure that the centre functions smoothly and can fulfil its mission to rehabilitate addicts and provide treatment for addiction.
There are currently only two drug rehabilitation centres in the province. The other centre is located in Keo Phos district and managed by the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).
Sreng Vanly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said drug use and trafficking in the province had increased and that the police had only cracked down on small-time drug users and smaller trafficking cases.
Regarding the new centre, Vanly said: “It is a good idea. And if the authorities eliminate or reduce drug use significantly in the province [through the centre’s efforts], that’d be great as it doesn’t cost the state much money. Drug use has a negative effect on families and national society.
“This new location should be well-planned and it ought to include classroom space to teach them job skills. Once they’ve quit using drugs, they’ll need to change their lifestyles and will need jobs to make a living.
“But if their drug treatment and rehabilitation does not include job training or skills, when they return home, they won’t know what do. They’ll be tempted to sell drugs seeing that they’ll need then money and then they’ll also get back on the drugs, causing further problems for society,” he said.