Tarn Taran: A whopping 126 per cent increase in the number of youth reporting for drug abuse treatment at OPDs of medical facilities showed the stupendous success of the government’s efforts to wipe out the menace from the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today. Launching the second phase of his government’s drug abuse prevention officer (DAPO) initiative here, he said as against 1.82 lakh youngsters who reported at OPDs for treatment in 2016, the number had gone up to 4.12 lakh in 2017.
As many as 5,107 youth were being treated at government rehabilitation centres and another 17,667 in private hospitals, the chief minister said. Reiterating his government’s zero-tolerance policy to drugs, Singh said that anyone found involved in spreading drug menace would not be spared and the big fish would also be nabbed soon from wherever they had fled.
Observing that low education levels was one of the factors contributing to frustration among the youth, thereby driving them towards negative influences such as drugs, the Chief Minister said his government was according top priority to improving the education system in the state. He reiterated his suggestion for a 5 per cent cut each in budget of all other departments to raise additional revenue for promoting and enhancing standard of education.
While the special task force (STF) is going all out to eliminate the scourge, it is the moral responsibility of every member of the society to fight this menace, Singh said. He exhorted people to join hands with the government in its battle against drugs and in the rehabilitation of the affected youth. Singh said that of the 4.8 lakh DAPOs registered in the state so far, 26,000 were from Tarn Taran.
On the occasion, the chief minister also dedicated to the people of Punjab, Nasha Roku Nigram Committees, the launch of Buddy Programme and OOAT (Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment) Centres at 60 sub-divisions of the state. The Buddy Programme, launched in schools for counselling against drugs will cover all students from class 6 onwards, starting with Class 9 in the first phase, he said.
On the new OOAT Clinics, the chief minister said that 29 clinics were already operational in Moga, Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts, with more than 4,400 patients registered so far. The retention rate at these clinics was as high as 86 per cent, he said, adding the clinics would remain open all seven days of a week. Singh said 150 medical officers and 160 counsellors and nurses had so far been trained for these clinics, where HIV and TB testing was also being provided.