Adjusting to the “New Normal,” the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) adopted infection prevention and control protocol to be followed upon the resumption of admissions and activities in drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities nationwide.

The protocol was recommended by the Department of Health (DOH), a member-agency of the Board, during its recent special meeting. It was approved to continue providing treatment, rehabilitation, and care services to Persons Who Use Drugs (PWUDs) while ensuring their health and safety against infections including COVID-19. This protocol will cover residential Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers (DATRCs), outpatient facilities, and community-based drug rehabilitation programs.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, admissions and group activities in these facilities were temporarily suspended last March. The DDB welcomed the result of this action as no COVID-19 cases were recorded from all DOH-DATRCs nationwide.

All DOH-DATRCs, outpatient facilities, and DOH- and LGU-managed community-based programs, are directed to follow the protocol which includes the adoption of engineering controls such as setting-up of triage and isolation areas, increasing ventilation in the facilities, and placing alcohol dispensers and handwashing sinks in strategic areas.

Environmental controls were also adopted which include regular cleaning, sanitation and disinfection of all areas and proper waste management disposal. All facilities shall also person establish screening and visitation guidelines, provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for rational use, and implement physical distancing. An Infection Prevention Control (IPC) Team or an IPC Focal Person shall also be designated.

Upon the compliance to these protocols, drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities can now start accepting new admissions. Aside from the required Drug Dependency Examination (DDE) to assess substance use disorder, PWUDs will also undergo screening for COVID-19 symptoms. Mandatory 14-days isolation or quarantine will also be implemented.

The DDB will assist the DOH in ensuring the adoption of the protocol and in capacitating drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities to respond to the challenges of COVID-19.