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Health workers: Indonesia's drug support services insufficient

Government funding for rehabilitation is not enough to keep treating those from deprived backgrounds, experts say  

Health workers: Indonesia's drug support services insufficient

Indonesian national narcotics agency and national criminal police detectives parade foreign and local drug traffickers in Jakarta on Sept. 7, 2016. Jakarta has stepped up a campaign against drugs and has put several foreign and Indonesian narcotics convicts to death by firing squad in the past two years. (Photo by Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

ucanews.com reporter, Java
Indonesia

April 21, 2017

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Indonesian Catholic health workers have questioned the commitment of the government to help drug users and the amount of funding allocated for addiction services.

"Since our rehabilitation center was established 15 years ago we never received aid from the government whereas we have helped the Indonesian people of regardless of their background," said Robertus Sudargo, secretary of Sekar Mawar, a church-run organization that helps drug users in West Java.

However, this year a trickle of government funding has come into Sekar Mawa but the finance is not enough to keep treating their clients from deprived backgrounds.

Sudargo said the center has been rehabilitating drug addicts since 2000 with aid from donors and currently it is serving 15 patients with holistic treatment.

"We have to treat them for at least six months. Our goal helps them so go back to normal life," he said.

Sister Flaviana Toedi, whose Sisters of St. Joseph Congregation runs a drug user rehabilitation center in Medan Archdiocese in North Sumatra, told ucanews.com that the government is paying drug users scant attention. "In the last two years the National Narcotics Agency in Medan helped us financially but it was not enough. Our only hope is aid from donors," she said.

Medan, capital of North Sumatra province, has the second highest number of drug users in Indonesia. "This problem encouraged our congregation to start rehabilitating them in 2014. Although we face a lack of finance it is important we help them."

The Indonesian bishops' conference issued a pastoral letter on drugs in 2013 following their synod. They said that "rehabilitation was important. The Catholic Church's view is that drug users should be treated. Throwing them into prison is not the solution."

President Joko Widodo called on the National Narcotic Agency to increase their efforts to crack down on the drugs trade and promised to come down hard on drugs and vowed to execute all drug traffickers when he come to power in October 2014.

Indonesia had 5.9 million drug users in 2015 according to the National Narcotics Agency and every year it increases some 13 percent. A minuscule minority, 38,427, were rehabilitated and 50 people died every day due to dangers associated with illegal drugs.

The issue was also questioned by U.N. Special Rapporteur Dainius Puras when he visited Indonesia March-April. He said there was a lack of commitment to solve various health issues including those faced by drug users.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on his visit to Indonesia to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June. However, in a statement at the end of his visit, Puras criticized Indonesia's tough anti-drug policy and described it as "excessively punitive."

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