The Punjab government has decided to recruit 30 psychiatrists for drug de-addiction centres, make tests free and reimburse bus fare to patients.

Additional chief secretary, health, Satish Chandra said the department will hold walk-in interview on July 27 for recruitment of 30 psychiatrists for these centres, besides re-employing retired psychiatrists and empanelling private psychiatrists.

“District Drug Committees headed by deputy commissioners are being requested to expedite the process of filling of vacant posts of counsellors and staff nurses,” he said.

HT had, in a special report on Sunday, highlighted how several of the 37 government-run de-addiction centres were battling staff shortage, poor infrastructure and a growing rush of patients.

Chandra said the department had set up 81 outpatient opiod assisted treatment (OOAT) centres to administer medicine to drug dependent persons under the supervision of a trained medical officer.

“More than 100 such centres are being set up in community health centres in three months. The training of medical officers is underway,” he said.

Besides issuing instructions regarding reimbursement of bus fare to patients, Chandra said the de-addiction centres were attached to civil hospitals and their laboratories having facilities for all kinds of tests which would be made free.

OOAT centres getting good response: Punjab govt

Punjab government on Sunday claimed that there was a “remarkable” increase in patients at the OOAT centres between June and July.

An official spokesperson said OOAT centres were witnessing excellent response to chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s appeal to people to join the government’s efforts to wipe out drug menace from the state.

The spokesperson said the average registration in OOAT centres has increased from 70 new patients per day in June to 408 new patients per day in July.

Further, the average footfall in OOAT centres has increased from 2,345 patients per day (old and new) in June to 4,408 patients per day (old and new) in July. On Saturday, the total footfall in OOAT centres (old and new) was 6,673, the spokesperson said.

The number is expected to go up substantially over the next two weeks, and is likely to close July at record levels, said the spokesperson.

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