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350 drug users get free treatment in Kabul

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AT-KABUL:  Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in collaboration with the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MoCN) and other relevant organizations had collected 350 drug users last night in Pul-e Sukhta area of Kabul city.

The addicts were transferred in ambulances to the newly established rehabilitation center. The addicts would get free treatment and vocational training in the center. The officials said that the drug users could have died due to cold weather if the government had not helped them. This was second round of the campaign to collect and rehabilitate the drug addicts.

The minister of health Ferozuddin Feroz said that priority during collection is given to those addicts who are without shelter and living under bridges near the Kabul River.

He said that the newly established center has the capacity to accommodate 1,500 addicts. “The center provides treatment and vocational trainings to addicts. We will collect and move the addicts to the center till April,” the minister added.

The minister for counter-narcotics Salamat Azimi said the center has been constructed and would be inaugurated soon. The center will provide treatment to about 70 percent of addicts living in the Kabul city.

She said that following orders of President Ashraf Ghani, a joint commission comprised of the MoPH, MoCN, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, ministries of economy and interior affairs had been formed to deal with the problem of addicts.

The newly established rehabilitation center was earlier used by Phoenix. In a similar move last week, about 350 addicts were collected and transferred to the center, she pointed out.

Statistics show that there are about three million drug addicts in Afghanistan, but due to lack of treatment centers and limited financial resources they could not be rehabilitated.

Afghanistan Drug Report 2015, released in December last year, revealed that 12.6 percent of adults in Afghanistan are drug addicts.

The survey was conducted by the MoCN with the help of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Salamat Azimi said that 1.9 to 2.4 million (12.9 percent) adults in the country are using drugs.

She said that there are 123 addicts’ rehabilitation centers in Afghanistan, which have the capacity of treating only 10.7 percent of drug users.

The survey showed 19 percent drop in poppy cultivation and 48 percent drop in opium production. It also showed a decrease in cultivation to 183,000 hectares in 2015, down from 224,000 hectares in 2014.