The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued the 'Procedure related to Operation of Drug Users' Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres' for rehabilitation and reintegration of drug users into society in a more effective and systematic way.

Under this procedure, non-government organisations will operate the treatment and rehabilitation centres on the land or other physical infrastructure owned or built by the government.

The treatment and rehabilitation centres will not only provide medical services for reduction of negative impacts caused by drugs and alcohol, but also conduct skill-based training and counselling for their integration into society without fear of stigmatisation.

"Only drug users recommended by a certified doctor shall be entitled to enrolment in the centres. The centres shall provide services to at least 25 per cent of drug users free of charge, as recommended by government authorities on the basis of their economic condition," read the procedure released by the MoHA yesterday.

In the case of drug users other than those recommended by government authorities, the centres may collect reasonable fees from service-seekers in a manner not exceeding the amount fixed by the MoHA.

As per the procedure, the MoHA will invite proposals from interested NGOs. Such proposals may be submitted to the MoHA or the concerned district administration office.

The procedure has also defined the eligibility criteria of non-governmental organisations to be eligible to operate treatment and rehabilitation centres in partnership with the government.

"There will be a seven-member district coordination and monitoring committee led by the concerned chief district officer for selection, coordination and monitoring of treatment and rehabilitation centres," the procedure says. After the non-governmental organisations are selected, the government will sign a two-year contract with them. The contract period may be renewed for one year based on their performance.

"If any drug user undergoing treatment is physically or mentally harmed due to the negligence of the centre, it shall be liable to pay compensation to the victim in accordance with the prevailing law," it says.

According to the procedure, the centres should be established and operated in a clean and peaceful environment and be close to a hospital or health institution with road transportation facilities.

The centres should have at least one ropani land in Kathmandu valley and a minimum of three ropani land in other parts of the country.

The centres should also have yoga room, classroom, workout room, kitchen, library, office room, treatment room and required number of bathrooms and toilets.

The procedure has stipulated a provision of separate bed for each patient, proper lighting and ventilation system, round-the-clock supply of water and electricity, playground, garden and safe compound wall at the centre.

As per a 2020 report on drug users published by the MoHA, drug abuse among youths is spreading across the country. The report stated that at least 130,424 youths are drug users in Nepal compared to 91,744 a decade ago.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 19, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.