Unlicensed private rehab centres, a threat for drug addicts

The mushrooming of unlicensed private rehabilitation centres in Ho Chi Minh City are being seen more as a threat than a savior for drug addicts, as they are operating with no reliable medical facilities.

Drug addicts enjoying a drawing class at the Thanh Da Rehabilitation centre (Photo: SGGP)

One Nhan Ai rehab centre in district 8 of Ho Chi Minh City has advertised for treating drug addicts, but has neither legal license to operate nor any qualified doctors or medical facilities.

The Nhan Ai rehab centre is in fact within a three storey private house in district 8 without any exercise facility, proper kitchen, physiotherapy ward or psychological consultation.

The owner of the centre, a woman named Ai, said relatives of drug addicts had two choices; either to admit drug addicts into the centre or keep them at home.

She offered a choice of two kinds of medicines as well, foreign made or locally made medicines. She promises to send a doctor to examine the patient at their homes twice a day, morning and afternoon.

She calms incoming customers who express fears of inadequate facilities at the centre, saying that she has been running the centre for ten years now without a single mishap. Besides she adds, her centre is not far from the district hospital and she can move the patient to the hospital in case of any complications.

Le Minh Hai, head of the ward that controls private medical clinics under the Department of Health, said the Nhan Ai rehab centre has no license to operate.

This was confirmed by a Sai Gon Giai Phong reporter who found that many private centres in the city were not operating with a license, nor have they ever been penalized.

According to Nguyen Van Minh, deputy chief of the city Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, more and more drug addicts need rehab detox treatment.

The city therefore decided to encourage the opening of private rehab centres but the centres were required to meet certain standards such as hiring qualified doctors, providing psychological consultation as well as vocational training for jobs at the end of a successful treatment.

HCMC has two state-run rehabilitation centres, Youth No.2 and Nhi Xuan centre.

The Thanh Da Drug Rehabilitation Centre in district Binh Thanh was established by veterans, retired police officers, medical workers and teachers.

The city plans to set up rehab activities for families and in communities in districts 3 and 10, in future. The project is being considered by the People’s Committee and will hopefully be implemented by 2012.

However, until the city opens certified rehab centres, illegal private centres continue to pose a threat for drug addicts and authorities need to crack down on their activities. 

By Tien Dat - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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