JEDDAH – The director of Jeddah Health Affairs Management has denied reports that his office has closed a drug addiction treatment center for women at Al-Amal Hospital in Jeddah.
“We do not have a drug addiction treatment center at Al-Amal Hospital in Jeddah,” said Dr. Sami Badawood on Tuesday. “That center only receives male patients, not females.”
Previous reports quoted Badawood as saying that the women’s ward at Al-Amal Hospital in Jeddah, a drug addiction treatment center, had been shut down because only a small number of women addicts had been referred to it.
The report sparked a strong reaction from the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR). “Addicts, both male and female, need focused treatment and rehabilitation programs, which do not yet exist here,” said Hussein Al-Shareef, director of NSHR.
“I have asked the Ministry of Health to establish a new drug addiction treatment center at Al-Amal Hospital in Jeddah, but they asked me to wait until we have statistics confirming the need for such a center,” Badawood said.
“We cannot create a male and female drug addiction center at Al-Amal Hospital until we are certain that the female section will at least receive the targeted number of cases,” he said.
He also rejected reports that the Jeddah Health Affairs Management had closed the rehabilitation program for addicted people at Al-Amal Hospital.
“We did not stop the rehabilitation program which plays an important role in helping addicts to become more stable personalities after overcoming their addiction,” he said.
Two drug addiction treatment centers have been established in Riyadh and Dammam, but he said both receive only five cases a year. He said there is a center at the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah which is “able to receive a small number of cases.”
The King Fahd Hospital receives about 30 cases a year, he said, adding that if it receives more cases, the patients are transferred to the Psychological Health Hospital in Jeddah.
According to Badawood, there may be a large number of addicted women in the Kingdom, but they fear seeking treatment because “they are worried about how they may be viewed by society which makes them try to hide their suffering.”
Dr.Mohammed Al-Hamed, head of the Psychology Department at Bakhsh Hospital, agrees that there is a need for an addiction treatment center for women in Jeddah.
“Women are the first to be blamed in Saudi society (so that) if a woman suffers from addiction she would most likely try to hide it and not let anyone know,” he said. “A man has the freedom to tell everybody about his suffering while a woman in the Kingdom is the one who is blamed … rather than the addiction.”
“I receive (reports of) many severely addicted women who need urgent treatment, but they don’t get the opportunity to have it; most of them refuse to go to rehabilitation centers due to the social stigma,” added Al-Hamed.
He said that if the Health Affairs Management is not sure of the number of addicted women, it can establish a small center with a modest amount of equipment. “It isn’t right to delay the setting up of such a center until it is certain how many people may use it,” Al-Hamed added.