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Making a difference

The opening might be more than six months away, but the new rehabilitation facility for female drug offenders is already being hailed as a major step for Barbados.

From left: Architect Adrian Forde, CJ Sir Marston Gibson, Marilyn Rice-Bowen, Colin Wilkinson, Paulette Drakes, Amy Sandolini and Tennyson Springer discussing the house.

The cost of the soon-to-be refurbished facility, formerly a half-way house know as Everton House, in Dash Valley, St. George, is yet unknown as inspections and estimates are to be conducted next week, but Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and Minister of Health Donville Inniss declared it a much needed intervention in the drug fight.

The initiative is being headed by the National Organisation of Women, whose President, Marilyn Rice-Bowen, noted that this kind of facility was long in coming.

“We are hoping to start construction, hopefully, in early March and of course I want to say publicly that we will welcome any donations. They know how to contact us, the National Organisation of Women, because people tend to feel that their children are not involved in drugs or whatever, but when we have a situation that currently exists with the females of this island any of us could be affected because the children go to school with your children and grandchildren…

“All the ills affect the society as a whole and the National Organisation of Women hold firmly to the view, our theme is Each Woman Can Make a Difference and we intend to make that difference for the female substance abusers on the island,” she said.

Inniss told reporters after the tour that private sector help like this enabled Ministry of Health officials to cast a wider net of care across the island.

“Apart from the Psychiatric Hospital, there really has been no facility to cater to women and the evidence is there that more and more women are getting involved in drugs and substance abuse… This partnership is certainly one that is highly commendable…

“I have always said that the Ministry of Health and the state cannot do it alone… Our approach in the ministry in recent times has not been to issue a blank cheque, but to pay for services. For too long the state has been taking on the bulk of the burden in this community and that has proven never to be a sustainable way of doing business,” he said.

The health minister noted that two years ago the ministry took the decision that individuals placed in rehabilitation facilities would be housed at a cost to the state, but under the condition that periodic reports be provided to health to gauge success of such interventions.

“At the end of the day, we want to know that whether you go to a state-funded institution or a private sector institution that the quality of care is the same,” he noted.

The Chief Justice in his remarks said the opening of this facility, once all the relevant repairs were done, would provide the court system with alternatives for treatment and sentencing of such individuals. (LB)

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