Allegations fly over OKANA rehab centers

Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis has demanded the resignation of the head of the state-run Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), which runs Greece’s biggest rehabilitation program for drug users, over an alleged gap in finances.

Allegations of mismanagement were hurled late Monday by Georgiadis’s deputy, Zeta Makri, who claimed that an investigation into OKANA revealed an 8.4-million-euro shortfall. According to the deputy minister, 3.5 million euros was provided for the financing of prevention centers and another 5 million was given to OKANA by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) for the creation of new rehabilitation units.

Makri also accused OKANA of violating safety procedures in administering substitute drugs to addicts.

OKANA President Meni Malliori on Tuesday denied reports that she had been asked by the ministry to step down, saying that she had in fact tendered her resignation 40 days earlier, after Makri issued an order for OKANA to make a purchase of drugs directly from a pharmaceutical supplier without holding a competition first.

The OKANA chief also rejected allegations of financial mismanagement and noted that when she took over the helm of the organization there was a 37.5-million-euro deficit due to the previous administration’s mismanagement.

Responding to allegations of safety violations, Malliori said drugs were administered in line with international guidelines.

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