English | Dzongkha Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Bhutan Institute of Well-being, the only Rehab Centre for both male and female, to open from tomorrow


Jul 2, 2020

After remaining closed to clients for about four weeks, the Bhutan Institute of Well-being will be opening its doors to alcohol and drug dependent individuals starting tomorrow. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced the institution to stop taking in clients for the past few weeks which has deprived several girls and women dependent on alcohol and drug, the option to overcome addiction through treatment at the rehabilitation centre.

The Bhutan Institute of Well-being under the Youth Development Fund is the lone institute in the country that provides rehabilitation services to both male and female seeking to overcome the addiction to drug and alcohol.

The Psychiatric Ward at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) where alcohol and drug dependent individuals are referred to for detoxification saw about 16 drug and alcohol dependent females admitted to the ward for detoxification. Around seven of them wanted to seek treatment at the rehabilitation centre upon completing detoxification.

Kunzang Tenzin, the Clinical Officer & Addiction Counsellor with the Psychiatric Ward at the JDWNRH, shares the inconveniences faced by the hospital and individuals after the closure of rehab centre due to the pandemic. “It has been a bit challenging for us here without any rehabilitation centre to refer to for the women who really wanted to seek treatment at such a centre. So with no centre open during this time for them, we tried and managed to call and give counselling twice a week here at the ward for the clients who are based in Thimphu,” he said.

There are three rehab centres in the country where drug and alcohol dependents go to, to overcome addiction. But only one of them- the Bhutan Institute of Well-being provides services to both male and female.

Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority’s (BNCA) Compulsory Drug Treatment Centre and Chithuen Phendey Association’s Centre for Mind and Wellness do not provide services to female clients.

BNCA only takes in male clients referred by the police or the judiciary while Chithuen Phendey Association’s Centre for Mind and Wellness is yet to put in place resources and facilities for female clients. The Centre’s Executive Director shared that they have proposed the Health Ministry to collaborate and provide four female counsellors.

The Centre has received several calls from women and girls enquiring about services in the past few months. “Three months after the institution of the centre here we have at least one woman in four men enquiring about services for them. And in recent times following COVID-19 situation we have had several women wanting to seek treatment at our centre. But we haven’t been able to provide service to them. We do not have female counsellors or matron at the centre right now. It is important to have female counsellors to listen to and understand the problems of women and girls at centres like ours,” said Tshewang Tenzin, the Executive Director of the Chituen Phendey Association at Taba in Thimphu.

The Bhutan Institute of Well-being’s director said in keeping with the government’s directive to close institutions across the country, the institute has not been able to take in clients from 6th June until today.

However, following government’s recent directive on easing restrictions in a phased manner the institute is now ready to take in clients starting tomorrow provided the clients and the officials working at the institute follow all the COVID-19 related protocols.

The Director of the Institute said two women will be joining the institute as it opens tomorrow. The Institute located at Jimithangkha at Jiminang under Maedwang Gewog in Thimphu has the capacity to treat 10 female and 20 male clients at a time. The institute says it receives fewer female clients compared to male with only around seven females in every batch.

Phub Gyem

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