CITY OF SAN FERNANDO --- The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Luzon called on the public to "stop discriminating, judging, and stigmatizing People Who Use Drugs or PWUDs.
DOH aired the appeal during last week's observance of Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week themed “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.”
The DOH Central Luzon Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center underscored the importance of stopping and preventing discrimination against PWUDs.
It added that it is equally important to acknowledge the victims' rights.
“Let us stop discriminating, judging, and stigmatizing PWUDs because by doing so, we are pushing them deeper into the cycle of drug dependency. Instead of blaming and stigmatizing individuals with drug use disorders, they should receive essential treatment and care. Minor drug-related offenses should facilitate paths toward recovery and rehabilitation rather than imprisonment,” the DOH said.
Based on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's World Drug Report 2023, 296 million individuals around the world used illegal substances and drugs within a year, with over 39 million experiencing drug use disorders.
In Central Luzon, the DOH said, PWUDs admitted to rehabilitation centers annually were at 304 in 2018; 707 in 2019; 334 in 2020; 455 in 2021; and 628 in 2022.
The agency also stressed that given the current scale of drug dependency, it's likely that everyone knows someone affected by illegal drugs, thus, it is crucial to support individuals in reclaiming their lives.
"The DOH has been working on the improvement of facilities and patient care for those undergoing treatment and rehabilitation; however, this does not hold true for those who are incarcerated. In our own capacity, we can advocate for the prevention and control of substance use, and for better services for them as well. We only have to care a bit more for our fellow men,” the DOH said.