A medical worker gives advice to an HIV patient in the northern province of Dien Bien (Photo: VNA)

The Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre is working hard to improve the effectiveness of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) administered to drug users and expand the therapy’s coverage.

There were 1,109 drug users receiving the treatment in Ben Tre by the third quarter of 2015.

In its first year of operation, the province’s first MMT clinic helped 219 patients improve their physical and mental health. As a result, more than 80 percent of them found jobs with stable incomes and improved their living conditions.

However, 27 of the patients gave up the treatment by August this year against the advice of medical workers.

Director of the Ben Tre HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Centre Le Thi Kim Thoa attributed the patients’ decision not to continue the therapy to the lengthy treatment duration, during which they have to come to the MMT clinic every day, a physical and financial obstacle to those living far from the clinic.

She said in order to assist the addicts, the clinic is offering consultations to promptly detect any psychological changes or illnesses and send them to medical establishments.

The provincial Department of Health will open more MMT clinics in Mo Cay Nam and Chau Thanh districts. Meanwhile, administrative procedures for doling out MMT will also be streamlined to promote addicts’ access to the therapy.

Thoa said as patients will have to pay some fees to receive MMT next year as mandated by the Ministry of Health, the provincial People’s Committee will use money sourced from the local budget to purchase and provide methadone for users free of charge in 2016 should foreign sponsors reduce their assistance.

The province will later build a roadmap for charging for MMT administration, she added.

The MMT is a cost-effective method that costs nine times less than traditional methods in rehabilitation centres. It not only allows addicted people to stop using drugs, reduces the risk of HIV transmission and improves the quality of life, but is also associated with a reduction of criminal activities.-VNA