DOCTORS and other medical personnel will be deployed in schools where students have been found positive for illegal drug use to closely monitor and help them kick off the habit.

Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Thelma Santos said the doctors are trained by the Department of Health (DOH) and tasked to determine the level of drug dependency of the students.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

“The kids are not really addicts. I'm actually wondering why when they were tested they were healthy then it was found out that they were positive in drug use," she said.

The treatment process, which normally runs up to six months, also included meeting with the parents since their cooperation is vital as well as their continuous guidance for their children.

The official said the DOH is actually the lead agency in this undertaking while the DepEd will continue to extend all assistance necessary to help the students.

She also disclosed that treatment has actually started last December while another round of drug testing at the National Capital Region (NCR) is slated next month.

Asked where the bulk of the number students found positive for drug use or if NCR posted the highest number of students found positive for drug use, Santos said the number actually varies since the testing was randomly conducted.

She cited the case of Northern Mindanao where more schools were included in for random testing while others were not such as in Central Luzon and NCR.

Earlier, the DepEd release the recent results of nationwide Random Drug Testing (RDT) in public and private secondary schools which showed that 72 out of 29,059 students tested were confirmed positive of drug use posting a prevalence rate of 0.24 percent.

Of the number, the report showed, 70 are found positive for marijuana and only two cases are for use of shabu.

Authorities said that the students preferred marijuana because of its accessibility and affordability.

The preference is also worsened by the myth that marijuana has medicinal properties and has no side effects or ill effects.

The DepEd said that although the preliminary results reveal a relatively low rate of drug use 0.24 percent (less than 1 percent), the agency will continue to strengthen the implementation of the National Drug Education Program (NDEP), which gives emphasis to the integration of drug prevention concepts in appropriate subject/learning areas both in elementary and secondary levels and the alternative learning system, and in co-curricular activities.

The report likewise disclosed that at present, some 2,907 or 28.5 percent of the 10,257 targeted high schools nationwide had been visited for the random drug testing.

The data showed that at present almost 96 percent of the 874 high schools in the National Capital Region have already been visited by the DOH analysts wherein some 26 students have been confirmed to be using drugs.

Earlier, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus vowed to further strengthen the anti-drug campaign in public and private schools in the country despite the “very low drug use” among students.

“Although result of the drug test showed a relatively low rate of drug abuse, we at DepEd will remain vigilant as we continue to strengthen our National Drug Eradication Program to ensure that we will be able to fully eradicate illegal drug use among our students,” Lapus said.

The program aims for the integration of drug prevention concepts in learning areas of both elementary and secondary schools, and the students’ co-curricular activities.

Those who are taking up the DepEd’s alternative learning program will also be included in the anti-drug campaign.

The official said DepEd would also work with the community and non-government agencies to ensure that the campaign will be a success. (AH/Sunnex)