Closure of Sanca in PE leaves huge hole
Centre offering services to addicts folds after subsidies slashed
Port Elizabeth’s oldest and biggest organisation offering free rehabilitation services to drug and alcohol addicts has closed down.
This comes after subsidies to the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca ) were slashed by 15% by the Department of Social Development last year.
The department and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund are the two main sources of income for Sanca.
According to the Medical Research Council, Sanca had since January 2013 treated the bulk of drug- and alcohol-addicted patients who could not afford a private facility in Port Elizabeth.
In Port Elizabeth, 78% of rehabilitation services are funded through medical aids and 2% by self-paying patients. The other 20% are funded by state, family, employers and friends.
According to the latest District Health Barometer, only 20% of people living in Nelson Mandela Bay had medical aid coverage.
Sanca’s national office spokeswoman, Clara Monnakgotla, confirmed the closure. “We will continue to help through the national office and refer people to [Social Development] for intervention as well as our treatment centre in East London,” she said.
In 2016, Sanca was identified as an important organisation in the provincial drug plan and was one of the organisations that benefited from a R9million overall investment into drug rehabilitation centres by premier Phumulo Masualle.However, it ran into financial trouble in June last year and was evicted from its Newton Park premises. It closed down a few months later.
At the time of the closure, Sanca was helping patients as young as seven and accepting five new patients a day.
Social worker Pamela Rubushe, who assists addicted pregnant women, moms with new babies, and children, said they were really struggling.
“We are referring to the Ernst Malgas Centre [the stateowned rehabilitation facility in New Brighton for teenagers] and also to Shepherds Field in St Albans and Welbedacht in Walmer,” she said.
The DA’s spokesman on social development, Kobus Botha, said the portfolio committee had never been informed of this closure.
“This uncaring act of these officials must be investigated and I will demand that from the portfolio committee chairperson and the new MEC, Dr Pumza Dyantyi.
“People seeking help are now deprived of a well-established and experienced organisation rendering specialist services,” he said.
According to statistics collected by the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use, the average age of drug and alcohol abusers in the province is 33.
Alcohol, dagga and tik remain the most-used illegal substances in Port Elizabeth.
In the past year there was an increase in people seeking help with alcohol abuse.
Social Development spokesman Mzukisi Solani said he had not yet received a response on the issue from the head of department, Ntombi Baart.
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