Rehabilitation of Persons with Substance Dependencies: briefing by Department

Social Development

18 October 2006
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


18 October 2006

Ms T Tshivase (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Presentation on Departments guidelines for the rehabilitation of persons with substance dependencies
Minimum norms and standards for in patient treatment centers
Model for the treatment of substance dependent youth in residential facilities
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The Department of Social Development presented on its guidelines for the rehabilitation of persons with substance dependencies, outlining the nature and extent of the drug problem, the minimum norms and standards for inpatient treatment centers, the implementation of the minimum norms and standards, centre-based rehabilitation, the registration of treatment centres, models for the treatment of youth in residential facilities, elements of community-based intervention, challenges in accessing treatment and rehabilitation services and the proposed measures to address these challenges. Of particular concern to the Committee was the department’s ability to access the necessary funding for such a programme and how well the department had consulted other important stakeholders. The Committee also expressed concern that the Youth Fund and the Youth Commission did not attend the meeting. The Committee also highlighted the need for a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Presentation by the Department of Social Development (DSD)
Ms Constance Nxumalo, Director: Substance abuse and CDA, Department of Social Development; (DSD) briefed the Committee on the Department’s policy on the management of substance abuse. In her presentation she highlighted the dire problem of substance abuse by South African youth. The Department had minimum norms and standards for inpatient treatment centres, and for centre based rehabilitation. She outlined how centres would obtain registration with the Department and set out some of the models for the treatment, particularly of youth, in residential facilities. A needs analysis was conducted by the Department to ascertain training needs before implementation of the programme. She explained that the programme was aimed as a community-based intervention strategy. The Department’s developed a minimum norms and standards code that would be rolled out to provinces. Challenges remained in accessing treatment and rehabilitation services and she described the proposed measures to address these challenges.

Mr M Waters (DA) asked if a non-compliance inspectorate would be established to monitor the implementation of the minimum norms and standards.

Ms Nxumalo replied that most facilities were not complying. However, the Department would not register new facilities that do not comply. The challenges for the department were therefore the old institutions and the ones that had not registered.

Mr M Waters (DA) asked what budget applications have been made for the next financial year.

Ms C Nxumalo replied that in terms of government run facilities, several gaps have been identified during the pilot programme in terms of budget allocations. The necessary applications would be made

Mr M Waters (DA) commented that there was an abundance of drugs on the streets. He asked whether the Department had consulted with the South African Police Services (SAPS).

Ms Nxumalo replied that SAPS had provided the department with a report on how best to deal with the problems of drug abuse and availability.

Mr B Mkongi commented that the Northern Cape was in crisis and had only two treatment centres. He asked what was the impact of stigmatization and how would the department address the situation.

Ms Nxumalo replied that the Northern Cape in fact had no State facility and that the Treasury was approached for funding for a 65-bed facility.

Mr P Viviers, Deputy-Director responsible for substance abuse, DSD, commented that State institutions were challenged because many patients had been referred to them in terms of Section 296 of the Criminal Procedure Act. Social workers in the community would advise patients, who invariably had criminal records.

Ms Nomathemba Kela, Chief Director, DSD, commented that while it might not be necessary to establish an inspectorate, it was necessary for the Department to conduct inspections. It was important for the Departments of Social Development, Health and Safety and Security to work together. Treatment centres where drugs were smuggled must be addressed as urgent. She also explained that budgetary constraints would always be there and that the Department had consulted SAPS, who in turn had consulted international agencies on the matter. Ms Kela stressed that the abuse of drugs was an illness just like any other and that communities should take some responsibility and not leave it solely to government. Only sound awareness programmes would deal with the issue of stigma and the Department could not keep building treatment centres without dealing with the root causes of substance abuse.

Mr M Waters commented that drug pushers and dealers got bail too easily. The Department of Home Affairs and the SAPS must do more than provide reports. The issue of drugs on the streets was a crisis and must be treated as such. Mr Waters wondered whether international best practices had been followed.

The Chairperson asked how to deal with the problem where officials were involved in the trafficking of drugs? 

Ms Nxumalo responded that the Department of Justice must address the issue of drug pushers and peddlers and corruption must be addressed by SAPS.

Mr P Viviers commented that the main challenge occurred when patients left treatment centers since there was a lack of good after-care facility.

Ms Kela commented that communities who reported drug related crime were not protected.

Ms Lana Petersen, Parliamentary Liaison Officer, DSD, commented that international drug syndicates should not be underestimated. The Assets Forfeiture Unit had the power to seize assets from criminal investigations. She also stated hat there was a vast difference in drug abuse in urban centres and drug abuse in rural communities.

Mr Waters commented that the Kimogo campaign must be a national campaign and could not be left to the provinces. The Department must establish how many billboards, radio advertisements and other methods it would use to support its campaign.

Ms Nxumalo commented that the Department had drafted a strategy that was submitted to the Treasury.

Mr Waters questioned why the Youth Commission and the Youth Fund were not present at the meeting

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) recommended that a new date be set for the Youth Fund and the Youth Commission to attend

The meeting was adjourned.


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