Substance abuse programme on track
The Western Cape Department of Social Development (WCDSD) – like many other government sectors – has been under immense pressure to meet increasing service demands under significant fiscal constraints.
This week, provincial Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, announced a nominal increase of 4.05% in the proposed budget for the 2023/2024 financial year.
Despite budgetary challenges – a knock-on effect of a National Treasury that is woefully unaware of what the needs are on the ground – the WCDSD has continued to deliver services where it is most needed.
The Department’s R108.8 million funding allocation to its Substance Abuse, Prevention and Rehabilitation programme in 2023/2024 is an example of this.
The programme offers the following support:
- The Department subsidizes: 6 in-patient treatment centers in the Western Cape to provide treatment for both adults and youth between the ages of 13-18 years of age. Total bedspaces are 671.
- The Department funds:
- 14 community-based organizations (CBOs) to render a non-residential community- based treatment programme across 32 sites in the province; 18 CBOs with 23 sites providing early Intervention Services;11 Organizations with 17 sites providing Aftercare Services; 3 organizations in Worcester, Athlone, and Bellville to deliver preventative services in rural areas with a focus on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
- 7 WCDSD-funded organizations provide services at identified high risk schools to ensure service availability in schools where brief interventions can be conducted.
- The WCDSD funds an opiate substitution therapy program in Mitchells Plain and Hanover Park. This is a 3-month long intervention made up of psycho-therapeutic intervention managed by a multi-disciplinary team.
- The Saartjie Baartman Centre is funded to admit female service users who experience problems with substance use disorders as well as gender-based violence.
- Expansion of services in Villiersdorp, Stilbaai, McGregor, Langeberg, Mossel Bay, and Hout Bay.
- Substance treatment programmes at six DSD Child and Youth Care Centres for children between 12 - 17 years old.
- The Department also operates one public treatment center in Kensington that caters for 30 males and 30 females on a rotational basis over a 9-week treatment cycle.
WCDSD staff have also been working hard to establish Local Drug Action Committees (LDACs), in accordance with the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2019-2024. A whole-of-society approach is the key to addressing substance abuse in communities. LDACs are useful platforms to engage residents and map service needs. Some of the mandates of an LDAC are to:
- Ensure that effect is given to the NDMP in the relevant municipality.
- Compile and implement an action plan to combat substance abuse in the relevant municipality in cooperation with provincial and local governments.
- Ensure that its action plan is in line with the priorities and the objectives of the integrated Provincial Drug Master Plan & that it is aligned with the strategies of government departments.
17 municipalities in the province have established LDACs, while 13 have not.
“There are various reasons for some municipalities not having LDACs: Political instability in some municipalities creates barriers to establish and maintain a functional LDAC. Some municipalities lack budget or human and other resources to establish and provide support to drive LDACs. Some municipalities do not agree with the principle of local government establishing and running LDACs,” says Minister Fernandez.
“It is disingenuous of certain politicians to suggest this government is dragging its feet when we have staff members working tirelessly to get this important platform implemented in municipalities. Ultimately, we cannot force municipal leaders to do so, and our focus must always be on supporting and helping those who have substance abuse disorders rather than cheap politicking.”
Where there are functioning LDACs, great success has been seen.
The Mossel Bay LDAC approached the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) in George for a treatment programme in the town. SANCA George was able to get funding to open a SANCA office in Mossel Bay to provide community-based treatment, showing the efficacy in LDACs collaborating with DSD-funded organisations to get SUD services to the most vulnerable communities.
The Theewaterskloof LDAC approached BOWL, another DSD-funded organization, based in Worcester to expand its services to Villiersdorp, which it subsequently did.
These are some of examples of how functioning LDACs are driving much-needed services closer to people, through partnerships. The Department will continue to work with municipalities, willing community members and innovative leaders to ensure that we support those in need.
For information on Substance Abuse Treatment Centres in the province: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/directories/facilities/736