Porto advances with a drug-assisted consumption room. Project sins late, says PS and CDU. PSD wants explanations

The executive of the Chamber of Porto will vote, at the meeting next Monday, the implementation of the program for consumption monitored in the city, which should start on the ground by the end of 2020. In the first phase, which will take place over a year, drug addicts will be assisted in a removable unit, with the provision of a mobile unit, with an adapted vehicle, that will travel through the most critical areas of the city by the beginning of 2022.

In total, the financial support of the Câmara do Porto amounts to € 550 thousand, of which € 400 thousand is allocated to the implementation of the project, coordinated by the Ministry of Health, through ARS Norte, and € 150 thousand for the acquisition of the mobile structure and a car. The collaboration protocol to be established between the municipality of Porto, the Intervention Service for Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies (SICAD), the Social Security Institute and the Northern Regional Health Administration (ARS Norte) is the culmination of a process started over a year, when Rui Moreira announced the municipality’s willingness to financially support an assisted consumption program.

“Drug addiction is a disease and a social problem, which is why the municipality could not move forward without the commitment and involvement of the health and social security authorities, both in terms of resources, as well as back-up support to prevent those who consume from risking falling. in marginality or homelessness ”, says Fernando Paulo. The councilor responsible for Housing and Social Cohesion stresses that assisted consumption units solve only part of the “complex problem of drug addiction”, since what the municipality intends “is not just that those who consume it do so in safe conditions”, but that you start to have medical supervision and, if possible, free yourself from dependence on narcotic products.

In the second phase, provided that the technical evaluation of the trial period is favorable, a tender procedure promoted by SICAD will be opened for the operation of the program, expanded with a supervised mobile consumption unit. According to the proposal of city councilor Fernando Paulo, the costs of implementing the project will be borne by the municipality in 2020, through an allocation of € 220 thousand, while for 2021 and 2022 € 90 thousand will be allocated, respectively.

Fernando Paulo recalls that the issue of dependencies “is not directly the responsibility of the municipalities, which may or may not express their interest in supporting this type of solutions”, claiming that, in the first line, it is up to the Ministry of Health to invest, implement and operate the rooms of assisted consumption. The councilor for social action tells Expresso that he does not have concrete data that will allow him to say whether there are more people using narcotics or if the problem “just became more visible” with the demolition and change of the last building in Aleixo, a neighborhood known for its concentration trafficking and “where many families alien to this type of crime lived hostage in their own homes”.

The councilor for social action admits, however, that the fact that trafficking has ceased to be housed has generated “a feeling of insecurity, linked to small marginality” in other areas and neighborhoods of the city, such as Pasteleira Nova or Pinheiro Torres, neighborhoods that have recently been targeted by police enforcement actions. The Mayor of Porto, who accompanied the operations of the PSP and the Municipal Police, defended that it was “extraordinarily important” to show “the presence of the State and the police”, as it transmitted greater security to “many people who feel kidnapped in their neighborhoods ”.

In view of the worsening of the problem in the city, with consumption increasingly visible also in Baixa and Centro Histórico and “after successive dialogues with various institutions and organizations in the city” and studies, Fernando Paulo says that the municipality of Porto decided to move forward with financial support for the creation of these assistance structures in the city, especially because, he says, with a greater fight against trafficking and a lower offer of narcotic products, “consumers are more exposed to risk and delinquency situations”.

PS and CDU maintain that program is short

Manuel Pizarro, a physician by profession and a socialist councilor in the Porto Chamber, is in favor of creating the assisted consumption program, but regrets that only now does independent governance move forward with unity on the ground. “Only sins late,” says the MEP, who recalls that, in 2017, when he was responsible for Housing and Social Action, he commissioned a study from the Institute of Public Health at the University of Porto that concluded that “the creation of a Assisted drug use in Porto was viewed favorably by the vast majority of the 1058 respondents ”and a solution that would help mitigate the problem.

Unlike Fernando Paulo, Manuel Pizarro has no doubt that the scourge of dependency has worsened in the city, which is why he “does not understand” that the program is only now being put to the vote. The socialist councilor also defends that the program has “more energetic” responses in terms of health and social support, regretting that the independent majority did not accompany the “eviction of the neighborhood” with social support measures, before the demolition of the last towers of Aleixo .

To Expresso, Álvaro Almeida anticipates that he will not vote in favor of the program, claiming that the fight against drug addiction is a responsibility of the central state and, as such, should be financed by the Ministry of Health. However, the PSD deputy and councilor does not reveal, however, whether to vote against or abstain. “I want to hear the explanations of the Mayor of Porto about a large municipal investment in a program that is up to the State to pay,” says Álvaro Almeida, who recalls that, at the end of 2019, the PSD took a motion against municipal financing to the Municipal Assembly to the assisted consumption program “which was approved with votes from the independent Rui Moreira group”.

Ilda Figueiredo shares the opinion of the PS councilor, stressing that the program does not solve the problem of dependency. “Other treatment and social integration measures are necessary”, says the CDU councilor, although she maintains that the program “can help some control and monitoring of drug addicts”. For Ilda Figueiredo, it is essential that the Institute of Drugs and Drug Addiction (IDT) resume its functions of coordinating and promoting risk prevention and reintegration programs.

Fernando Paulo justifies the delay in the program because the collaboration protocol with the Ministry of Health diverges from the conditions that “were being negotiated” and that were deliberated either by the Chamber or by the Municipal Assembly, in addition to the pandemic crisis having also created some constraints. Last November, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Health, he warned that the guardianship that could not “remove responsibilities that are yours”, especially since the municipality “assumed its availability as a partner of a Ministry of Health program, namely accepting co-financing. the structures that were to be assembled ”.