As an initiative to combat substance abuse in Johannesburg Health District, the department together with municipality embarked on an educational campaign this week.

In addition to educating people about the risks associated with substance abuse, the community event at Westbury Recreational Centre also aimed at strengthening available services.

Prof Yusuf Moosa, a Psychiatrist at Johannesburg Health District said the campaign which started a month ago in community radio station and television emphasises on the harmful effects of substance abuse.

“Substance abuse is a medical illness, it is no longer a social problem but a medical health problem with significance cost to society,” he said.

Addressing the community, MMC for health, Dr M Phalatsie said dealing with substance abuse problem is a priority for the Gauteng Department of Health.

“We have outpatient facilities where patients come in the morning, undergoes screening for HIV amongst other diseases. We are linked to clinics, so all our centres are within clinic facilities so we can treat you comprehensively as a holistic thing,” said Dr Phalatsie.

She added that a lot of people once they start to use drugs they neglect their health so they come with a lot of comorbid conditions. Our facilities can help addicts to rehabilitate fully.

“Post physical tests, patients would then go through a psycho social assessment by a psychologist or a social worker who would then profile the addict and offer therapy sessions thereafter,” added Dr Phalatsie.

The Dr announced that: “We will soon launch an outpatient facility in Westbury and also opening two more facilities in Tutukane and Davidsonville. By the end of June 2020 we will have 7 outpatients and 2 inpatient facilities.”

A community member, Lynette Pietersen said: “Most of the children that are on drugs have matric and are unemployed. Our boys are looking for role models and there are no father figures. I am pleading with the government to give our children jobs as we are tired of burying some of them every weekend.”

Source: Gauteng Province