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New rehab centre ‘okayed’ for Battambang

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Interior minister Sar Kheng view an artist’s rendition of the drug rehabilitation centre in Battambang province on May 31.​ SAR KHENG VIA FACBOOK

New rehab centre ‘okayed’ for Battambang

More drug rehabilitation centres are being established throughout the Kingdom to protect public safety and to assist addicts with their recovery, as illegal drugs remain a serious challenge in Cambodia.

According to an official report, police investigated 1,694 drug-related cases in the first quarter of the year, with 3,710 suspects arrested. The amount of drugs seized increased by more than 3,405kg, or more than 19 times the first quarter of 2021.

Ke Sinoun – director of Ke Sinoun Hospital in Battambang province and a member of the provincial council – told The Post on June 9 that he had discussed his intention to open a new rehabilitation centre there with Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.

“I informed him about our principles and programmes and he was 100 per cent behind the plan. He wants to establish as many high-standard rehab centres as the Kingdom needs, and supported my proposal – partly because of my credentials a medical doctor,” he said.

Sinoun confirmed that he has met all the standards set by the ministry. First, he selected 15ha of land which is readily available, and in a favourable location. Secondly, his medical qualifications meant he was an eligible candidate.

He had organised not just accommodation and medical treatment facilities for the patients, but sports and art facilities. There would also be education – in English language and computer skills – and vocational training, in cabinet making, agriculture and mechanical skills.

Sinoun set his heart on opening the centre when he learned that ordinary working Cambodians had begun using illegal drugs, often in the construction and hospitality fields. Drug relief is closely associated with the medical field, and he already has staff available and land in that location, so he thought establishing a centre which would help society and rehabilitate drug addicts made sense.

He said he already employed the majority of the staff he needed, including doctors and social workers who would cooperate with the police. He expected that the facility would require about five psychiatrists to treat the addicts and an additional 10 or so guards, cooks, and cleaners, meaning the centre would eventually employ 20 to 30 staffers.

He said he had been planning the centre for a year, although construction only began one month ago. He hoped to open the facility within five months.

“First, we prepared a 14ha site. We built one building, which cost between $200 and $220 per square metre, so the initial budget will be just over $500,000. If demand is high, we may need to expand to 15ha and enlarge our building.

“The building will be divided into normal, VIP and VVIP rooms, which mean we will be able to treat patients of various backgrounds. Ultimately, I expect the facility could cost $4 million to $5 million,” he said.

Once drug addicts arrive at the centre, their condition will be assessed by his team, who will advise the victim’s family as to how long a stay would be recommended. Some patients may require as short of a stay as six months, while some may need years of treatment. If training is to be included, then the length of courses must also be considered.

“After treatment is completed, we will issue them with certificates encouragement. When they are discharged from the centre, we will contact business owners and government officials and help them to find employment. If they have undergone training through us, we will try to find them work which related to their new skills,” he said.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group LICADHO, expressed interest in the construction of the centre. “I think establishing more centres that can treat and rehabilitate the victims of drugs can only be a good thing, as drug problems certainly seem to be spreading across the country – even in rural areas.”

He added that all centres must be of a standard that meant they were able to provide real help to patients. In the past, there had been several privately run clinics that fell short of the treatment standards that families expected.

“Some clinics treated addicts as dangerous criminals and used violence on them. We want them to be taken care of, and treated as victims of drugs. Ultimately, what we need to do is increase our focus on cracking down on drug production and trafficking, and ensure that victims of drugs are treated properly,” he said.


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