UAE steps up plans to beat drug ad­dic­tion

The National - News - - NEWS | EMIRATES - HANEEN DAJANI

Health of­fi­cials lead­ing UAE ef­forts to help beat drug ad­dic­tion an­nounced a series of new mea­sures to com­bat the is­sue.

Dr Ha­mad Al Ghaferi, head of the Na­tional Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre, said non-Emi­rati res­i­dents were now be­ing of­fered treat­ment at half the usual price.

He also an­nounced an ad­di­tional 40 new staff would be join­ing the med­i­cal team at the cen­tre next year.

Ad­di­tion­ally, num­bers of beds avail­able to pa­tients would be ex­panded, he said, with the cre­ation of a spe­cial­ist ward for ado­les­cent ad­dicts.

“We are re­vis­ing the prices we are giv­ing [for­eign res­i­dents] and en­cour­ag­ing them to come and seek help,” Dr Al Ghaferi said.

“We started of­fer­ing the dis­counted rate three months ago. And we are work­ing with health in­sur­ance [of­fi­cials] to cover men­tal health and ad­dic­tion in their pack­ages.”

Dr Al Ghaferi was speak­ing at an event in Abu Dhabi aimed at com­bat­ing ad­dic­tion, held in co-op­er­a­tion with the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

He em­pha­sised that Emi­ratis seek­ing help with drug ad­dic­tion could still be treated free, and that new rates for for­eign res­i­dents were now far lower. He said the new prices were a quar­ter of the rates charged in other coun­tries for the same level of ser­vice.

Since 2016, the NRC has treated 117 non-Emi­ratis via its in­pa­tient and out­pa­tient clin­ics. The cen­tre treats about 800 pa­tients at its out­pa­tient clin­ics each year.

Dr Al Ghaferi went on to out­line the cen­tre’s ex­pan­sion plans in terms of staff num­bers and avail­able beds at the unit. He said a new ado­les­cent ward would be opened next year with an ini­tial six beds. Young peo­ple cur­rently make up 10 per cent of the cen­tre’s in­pa­tients. He also said a fe­male pa­tient unit would be in­creased from the ex­ist­ing eight beds to 15.

“We will start with six to eight beds [for the ado­les­cent ward] and in­crease grad­u­ally based on need,” he said. “We can in­crease to 12 and go up to 24 max.

“In 2017, we started work­ing on rais­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions [of staff] on a min­is­te­rial and man­age­rial level, and on gov­er­nance of ser­vices and treat­ment pro­to­cols and how to deal with new sub­stances.

“We are work­ing to­wards rais­ing stan­dards of health­care.”

We are re­vis­ing the prices we are giv­ing [for­eign res­i­dents] and en­cour­ag­ing them to come and seek help Dr HA­MAD AL GHAFERI Na­tional Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre

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