DOH announces soft opening of mega drug rehab center in Nueva Ecija

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Rosell-Ubial announced on Tuesday the soft opening of a "mega" drug treatment and rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija.

Ubial said the about 1,000 DOH personnel hired for the center are having a dry run on how to manage its facilities. She added that the center will start accepting patients when it opens "sometime November."

"[A]lmost 50 percent of the facility has been constructed. The right wing of the building, which can accommodate almost 1,000 patients and offices, are now ready to be furnished."

Upon completion, the 100,000 square-meter facility will house up to 10,000 patients. Ubial said 2,500 beds were turned over on Monday, while the remaining 7,500 will be given on November 16.

Read: Government eyes ₱3 billion for drug rehab programs

The soft opening comes just about a month after Ubial visited China on September this year. It was there where the government signed a deal with a Chinese donor, businessman Huang Rulun. Ubial said Huang is a philanthropist listed in the Hurun Philanthropy List for 13 consecutive years.

"He is a privately held real estate developer and has investments in 20 five-star hotels and 10 shopping malls all in China," she added.

According to Forbes Magazine, Huang has a net worth of $3.6 billion dollars as of October 18. The publication says on its website that Huang was born in Southeastern China "and found success in the trading business after he moved to the Philippines in 1986. He returned to China in 1991 and invested in real estate."

Ubial said a private corporation in the Philippines has stepped up to donate furniture for the facility. She did not identify the company.

The Health Secretary estimated that one to two percent of drug surrenderees need residential drug rehabilitation or in-patient care.

She said the rest will be referred to either a community-based program or an out-patient rehabilitation program. The DOH and local governments are training "frontline" doctors and health professionals for that.

Ubial said the government's goal is to establish one more mega treatment and rehabilitation center in Luzon, and one each for the Visayas and Mindanao.

The DOH is requesting ₱144 billion for its budget in 2017."In the 2017 budget, there's about three billion (pesos) budget for establishing four 'mega' treatment and rehabilitation centers and four regional treatment and rehabilitation centers," Ubial told CNNPhilippines' The Source.