IMPHAL July 30: The Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), a state level network of drug users has condemned the death of an inmate of Bethsaida de-addiction centre following an incident which took place on July 24,.
Convener of the network, RK Nolinikanta briefing media persons at Manipur Press Club today said that the death of an addict identified as T Gouviakthuam who was seeking recovery at a rehab must be condemned at the highest level.
He said that a fact finding team of CoNE went to Bethsaida to inquire about the matter. As they were denied information and entry into the rehab premises, the real condition of the centre and the addicts remain unknown. However the team managed to talk to a former inmate and gathered some astounding facts.
According to the source, it came to light that the centre gives only one bucket of water per inmate to bath in a week. The newcomer is not detoxed and no medication is given. Further, the inmate is chained to the bed for another 15 days and three months chained in the legs, added the source.
Another three years are required to address the rehab process of the addict and no proper counseling is given. The centre relies on teachings from the Bible, the source also added.
“This is not a rehab centre but more like a torture centre, the inmates are treated in an inhuman manner. How can an addict recover in such conditions”, Nolinikanta said.
Regarding the death of Gouviakthum, he said that the death is due to a scuffle inside the premises and questioned how that is possible.
“ It clearly indicates that there is no order inside the centre, besides this is not the first time, but two similar deaths had been reported during this year at this rehab, and it is also not recognized by the Social Welfare Department”, he said.
Condemning the workings of Bethsaida centre and demanding intervention from the department of Social Welfare to enforce minimum standards, CoNE and other representatives will organize a protest rally at Churachandpur on August 8, a memorandum will also be submitted to the DC concern to look into the matter. The DGP and the MLA forum on HIV/AIDS will also be intimated, he said.
Addressing the media, Ksh Jibanmala, convenor of FINGODAP, a community based organization praised the drug user community for uniting against the inhuman practices.
“The community has an important role in ensuring rights of a person are not violated, the existing rehabs must be strictly monitored”, she said.
Besides ensuring the Ministry of Social Welfare and Empowerment guidelines are adhered to, there is a strong need for linkages between these rehab centres and the general health system. Since injecting drug users are at risk of contracting HIV, Hepataitis C, TB and other illnesses, the Health Department and the MACS have an important role to play, she added.
Speaking on this issue, Padmashree Dr Jayantakumar, Director, Regional Resource and training centre said that the MSJE has clearly laid down minimum standard of service including infrastructure, man power, training of staff and treatement protocol for rehab centres. “many existing centres in Manipur are akin to treatment centres run by quacks”, he added.
While the guidelines mentions that detoxification service should be provided to make the withdrawal save and comfortable for an addict, the practice of chaining patients and solitary without detoxification is practiced in numbers of rahab centres.
Though the guidelines said that 15 bedded rahab centres should have a doctor, three councilors, one nurse and other support staff, hardly a few centres follow this. For instance, the Bethsaida de-addiction centre houses 112 inmates in three rooms without the provision of a doctor, counseling and other necessary services.