JEDDAH – At least 14 women physicians, social workers, and specialists received their end of service letters a week from shutting down a ward for treating women addicts at Amal Hospital in Jeddah.
Women addicts receiving minor treatment at the hospital have been referred to the mental hospital in Jeddah.
“There is no need for the staff right now as the treatment program for women addicts has been fully operated,” said Osama Ibrahim, supervisor general of the hospital. It is a decision of the Ministry of Health, he said. The ministry wants to take corrective measures to run the program through a self-funding operation, he said.
Terminating the service of 14 employees, however, is not the end of the program idea, he said. The decision to revive it is in the hands of higher authorities, Ibrahim said.
The 100-bed hospital is entirely devoted for men addicts. There are reportedly about 30,000 drug addicts in the Kingdom. Amal Hospital, on a daily average, treats 120 to 170 drug addicts between the ages of 18 and 40. Of late, there has been a 300 percent increase in treatment requests at the hospital.
There is inadequate medical service provided to women addicts, Ibrahim said. They are treated at outpatient clinics with no hospitalization, he said.
The decision to shut down a women’s ward at the hospital has left terminated employees and women addicts holding the bag. “It is unfair to treat men addicts and leave women alone,” said one of the terminated staff. “Some women addicts undertake to go through the full course of treatment, yet they cannot have it,” she said.
The cases of women addicts are increasing, and those referred to the mental hospitals instead would not receive proper treatment of their addiction, she said. “Once a woman addict of hashish told me that she wanted her demand of treatment to be heard by the Minister of Health himself,” she said. “Where do you treat women addicts?,” that woman wanted to ask the minister, she said.
A 19-year-old girl came with her father for treatment and she needed hospitalization and focused treatment for at least two months, but there was no place to take her to, she said. “The girl confessed she needs some place to stay away from drugs delivered to her doorsteps,” he said. But where is that place for women addicts, she said.
We will always ask for setting up specialized health care centers to treat women addicts,” said Hussein Al-Shareef, director of National Society for Human Rights (NSHR). “Addicts, regardless of their sex, need a focused treatment and rehabilitation program, which do not exist here yet,” he said. – Okaz/SG