OSCAs needed in 7 drug abuse red zones in Sarawak

Seen are Fatimah (right) and a medical officer during the former's visit to the OSCA at Petra Jaya Health Clinic.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, March 2: Seven more One Stop Centres for Addiction (OSCAs) are needed to be set up in public health clinics in Bau, Sibu, Limbang, Lawas, Bintulu, Samarahan and Serian to expand access to treatment and rehabilitation to cater to a high number of drug addicts in these drug abuse red zones.

Of the total of nine areas in Sarawak classified as high-risk red zones for drug abuse, OSCAs has been set up at two red zone areas which are Tudan Health Clinic, Miri and Petra Jaya Health Clinic, Kuching.

Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah revealed she was aware that the number of drug addicts is high and the rate of successful recoveries was low while there were not many rehab centres around.

“So we hope to see seven more OSCAs being set up in each of the areas as we are motivated by the success stories. We hope the stories will be repeated.

“Based on experience and success stories, we know that these people (addicts) need professional help and avenues to overcome their addictions in order to function in the community,” she said during a visit to the OSCA at Petra Jaya Health Clinic today.

Fatimah also shared that in a huge operation involving six villages last week, police had arrested 109 people for drug-related activities including a female repeat offender who had been caught three times and a married couple whose child was being cared for by their mother.

In January 2021 alone, she added, Sarawak recorded 712 cases with 780 arrests made from 984 operations conducted by the Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID), National Anti-Drug Agency (NADA) Sarawak and the Customs Department Sarawak.

“Looking at the statistics, we need to do more and work together as a team with various agencies from enforcement, rehabilitation to advocacy to tackle drug issues in Sarawak.

“(We need to reduce) stigmatisation in the community of drug addicts because it is difficult for them to come forward,” she emphasised.

As such, Fatimah saw the importance of promoting OSCA as an avenue that provides new hope for drug addicts to go for rehab voluntarily.

“We see that OSCA is different as it is very clinical in approach to help addicts who do not want to be seen in CNC (Cure and Care Centres operated by NADA) for instance or other rehabilitation centres offered by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“OSCA forms a very important part of the integral chain as a holistic approach to curb and prevent drug abuse in Sarawak,” she said.

Currently, there were 111 clients receiving treatment through OSCA with 110 in Tudan Health Clinic and one in Petra Jaya Health Clinic.

“I am confident that the number of clients in OSCA Petra Jaya Health Clinic will increase following the collaboration between OSCA and the One Stop Committee for Tackling Drug and Substance Issues (MIDS) of Kuching District,” Fatimah added.

Apart from OSCA, Fatimah explained that arrested addicts can be ordered by the court to undergo rehabilitation in institutions like Narcotic Addiction Rehabilitation Centre (Puspen) in Puncak Borneo or to volunteer to undergo treatment in CNC, both of which are operated by NADA.

“As of Feb 28 this year, there are 124 clients placed in Puspen and 19 clients at CNC in Puncak Borneo. Voluntary treatment and rehabilitation within the community is also given to 1,933 people under surveillance (OKP) by NADA in Sarawak.

“There are also 87 people undergoing treatment in centres set up by NGOs in Miri, Sibu and Kuching,” she added.

Overall, Fatimah disclosed, there were a total of 2,244 people receiving formal treatment and rehabilitation in Sarawak through Puspen (124 individuals) and in NGOs centres (87 individuals), within the community as ordered by court (1,922 OKP), and voluntarily in OSCA (111 individuals).

“Drug addiction is like a disease that needs to be treated and we are here to help.

“The ministry is also offering our services because when we work together, we can achieve better results. That’s how we intend to tackle drug issues in Sarawak,” she added. — DayakDaily