PUNJAB HEALTH MINISTER DEVISES COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO FREE PUNJAB FROM DRUG MENACE
In order to eradicate drugs from the state to transform it into a “Rangla Punjab” as envisioned by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Balbir Singh on Tuesday, presided over an inter-departmental high-level meeting at office of National Health Mission here. The meeting was aimed at discussing the findings of a campaign which was conducted from June 15 to July 19, 2023. The meeting was attended by the senior officers from various departments including the Department of Health, Department of Prisons, and the Department of Social Security, Women & Child Development.
Disclosing the findings of the campaign, Dr Balbir Singh said a total of 33682 inmates were screened for STIs, 24404 for syphilis, 23879 for HIV, 33576 for TB, 20904 for Hepatitis B, and 21299 for Hepatitis C during the campaign. The findings indicated that a total of 916 inmates (2.7%) were identified with STIs, 168 (0.7%) with Syphilis, 923 (3.9%) with HIV, 34 (0.1%) with TB, 143 (0.7%) with Hepatitis B, and 4846 (23%) with Hepatitis C, he said. ” Acting promptly, we have immediately put 100% of inmates who tested positive for STIs, TB, Syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis C on appropriate treatment,” said Dr Balbir Singh.
The Minister acknowledged the important observations of the campaign and he advised the officers of the health department to work more vigorously and collaborate with various other departments to extend their reach to the community at large and provide support to individuals suffering from substance use disorders.
During the meeting, Special Secretary Health Dr Karthik Adapa, emphasised the significance of scaling up evidence-based prevention and treatment services in prisons, juvenile homes, and drug treatment and rehabilitation centres. He advocated for the expansion of harm reduction interventions in prisons and other closed settings to tackle these health issues more effectively.
Prachi Shukla, the Country Director of World Health Partners, presented a proposal for a crucial intervention focused on mental health screening, counselling, and referrals for prison inmates. The project to be implemented in four central jails in Punjab in partnership with the Department of Health, Government of Punjab.
Furthermore, Dr Balbir Singh suggested initiatives to establish drug-free villages and recommended an outcome analysis for the services provided by current rehabilitation centres and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers (SUDTCs). These evaluations can help in enhancing the effectiveness of the services and identify areas for improvement, he added.
Dr Balbir Singh also requested ADGP Prisons Arun Pal Singh to identify errant officials in the prisons department and take necessary action against them to completely stem the drug menace in the jails.
The Minister also made an appeal to all the Village panchayats, mohalla committees and other NGOs to come together to make Punjab a drug free state.