The Eastern Cape government is failing to assist the thousands of youth across the province who are battling with substance abuse.
As the world marks the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, serious concerns have to be raised around what the provincial government is doing to help youth who are battling to overcome drug addiction.
It is common cause that societal factors play a critical role in substance abuse, and with the Eastern Cape having the highest youth unemployment in the country, it is no surprise that the province has a major drug abuse problem, and the need for treatment is growing.
Drug abuse, such as the use of heroine, also places abusers at risk of contracting HIV.
The only dedicated state-owned drug rehabilitation centre for children, the Ernest Malgas drug rehabilitation centre in Port Elizabeth, is reported to be falling into disrepair, with rehab services compromised.
I will be submitting questions to the new MEC for Social Development, Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, to provide clarity on the current condition of the Ernest Malgas drug rehabilitation centre, as well as what other work the Department is doing to address drug abuse in the province.
I will also be conducting an oversight inspection of the centre in the coming week, to ascertain the current state of affairs and to determine whether those present are receiving the treatment they need.
Non Profit Organisations, who are reliant on assistance from government, are also battling as funding is cut. One such example is Port Elizabeth’s oldest and biggest organisation, SANCA, which offered free rehabilitation services to drug and alcohol addicts, which closed its doors last year.
According to a response to a parliamentary question at the beginning of the year, the Department of Social Development is currently only funding four NPOs that specialise in drug abuse across the entire province.
This is in sharp contrast to the DA-governed Western Cape, where funded substance abuse treatment services have grown from seven in 2009 to 51 in 2017. Since 2014, the Western Cape has provided early intervention services to over 30,000 individuals, with in-patient services having helped over 5,000 individuals and close on 10,000 additional individuals receiving out-patient treatment.
The DA is committed to building One South Africa for all, which includes providing the necessary care to those who need it.
Edmund van Vuuren, MPL
DA Shadow MEC for Social Development
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