Surigao, DOH officials lead Caraga's first rehab center groundbreaking rites

City Mayor Alfonso Casurra and DOH Assistant Secreatry Dr. Elmer Punzalan led the groundbreaking last September 15 of the P35-million Drug Rehabilitation and Treatment Center to be constructed in Barangay Anomar this city.

Mayor Casurra revealed that the lot for the proposed rehabilitation center was donated by the city government of Surigao.

The construction of the facility however is being bankrolled under the Office of Special Concerns of the DOH.

"This project as you can see is in Phase 1, P7.5Million because the total project costs about P35Million. We hope to complete it before my term ends. In June of 2010, the succeeding phases of course will be handled by whoever will be the next mayor of the city of Surigao but according to the Regional Director, by hook or by crook, this will be opened before my term ends," said Mayor Casurra.

Casurra revealed that the proposed rehab center is a very strategic one for it will cater not only to patients in Caraga Region but also in neighboring provinces.

"This is a good area that could provide us this kind of services not only in Caraga Region but also in the area of S. Leyte. As you all now we are far more nearer S. Leyte than Tacloban itself in Region VIII so these areas can better serve by this facility and I am happy to tell you this will become an integrated approach of this kind of facility," Casurra said.

He also described the event as a very historical one. "Historical, in the sense, that nobody would even think that this kind of a treatment facility would be coming to Surigao not even in my wildest dreams."

Meanwhile, DOH Caraga Regional Director Dr. Leonita Gorgolon, revealed that it was more than a year now when the idea of putting up a drug rehab cropped up due to a number of reasons.

"First, we have the legal mandate, RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Drug Act of 2002. Second, is that, there is a pressing need to put a drug rehab center because of a high incidence of drug abuse problem as evidenced by the results of a national random drug testing in secondary and tertiary students in 2002 and 2005 wherein Caraga region ranked as among those highest students who tested positive of marijuana and shabu."

Also, ASec Punzalan said that the abuse of substances and its related problems continues to be a public health and social concern. "At present we still continue to experience problems in drug abuse and Caraga is one of the regions in the country noted to be with a high prevalence of drug use thus the conceptualization of the plan."

Earlier, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared herself as the drug czarina in the country and the said project in the region is part of her campaign to prevent and curb drug problems and provide rehabilitation and treatment to victims of drug abuse. (PIA-Surigao del Norte)

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