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Drug rehabilitation centres to reopen after Covid outbreak ends; problems persist

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Cambodia has 18 drug rehabilitation centres, of which 11 are state-run, three are private establishments, and four are NGOs. Heng Chivoan

Drug rehabilitation centres to reopen after Covid outbreak ends; problems persist

All drug rehabilitation centres in Cambodia will reopen to admit people with drug problems after the February 20 community outbreak of Covid-19 ends, according to a senior official of the General Secretariat of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).

Lim Tong Huot, director of the General Secretariat's Legislation, Education and Rehabilitation Department, told The Post on May 5 that since the outbreak, centres have also stopped visitors entering them.

"The closure and visitor ban are to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to those receiving treatment in all of our rehabilitation centres," he said.

"Once the tragic February 20 outbreak ends, all centres will reopen to admit new victims and allow people to visit their relatives," he said.

The families of some patients have expressed concern about the condition of relatives in the centres, especially food.

Kirth Tha, 56, a resident of the capital’s Russey Keo district, told The Post that she asked a local police officer to send her drug-addicted son to the drug rehabilitation centre Orkas Knhom to detoxify and educate him.

Her son has stayed at the centre for almost three months. She used to visit him twice a month, but after the community outbreak, the centre prohibited visits.

"I do not know if my son has enough food, because I am also facing livelihood problems. I haven’t sent anything to him. I hope that my son will become a good child, a good citizen, refraining from drugs after returning from the centre," she said.

Orkas Knhom director Mom Chandany told The Post that the centre has enough food for patients and to receive treatment and rehabilitation services.

"Here, we have three meals a day for patients, although it is not always delicious, it is decent. So, parents or guardians should not worry about this,” she said.

According to Chandany, the centre is under the jurisdiction of the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration and the municipal Department of Social Affairs. All expenses are paid for by the state.

She added that recently, the centre also received donations of food and masks to prevent Covid-19 infections and alcohol sanitisers from the Phnom Penh municipality.

Drug Addict Relief Treatment Education Training Association (DTA), a large private rehabilitation centre in Sen Sok district’s Kouk Khleang commune, is facing financial difficulties during the Covid-19 outbreak because its operations depend on fees paid by patients’ parents.

DTA general manager Hang Braser told The Post that over 300 people were currently being treated at the centre. Some of their guardians have asked for a delay in the payment for services due to financial problems resulting from the lockdown.

"Obviously we have some financial issues because some parents ask for a postponement of payment, but we still serve three meals a day for the children being treated here,” he said.

As visitors are banned, parents can communicate with their children via messaging apps Telegram or WhatsApp.

In the first three months of this year, the number of people who volunteered to receive drug treatment and rehabilitation services in drug rehabilitation centres stood at 9,267 nationwide, according to NACD.

Cambodia has 18 drug rehabilitation centres, of which 11 are state-run, three are private establishments, and four are NGOs. There are also 450 community health centres and hospitals that provide drug treatment and rehabilitation services.

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