Representatives from 20 provinces and cities with large number of drug addicts gathered at a conference in Hanoi on June 5, debating the expansion of methadone therapy to treat drug users.

Piloted in April 2008 in Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City, the methadone treatment programme has since been spread to 32 out of the country’s 63 provinces and cities, with a total of 17,521 drug addicts receiving treatment at 92 clinics.

The Ministry of Health’s Administration of HIV/AIDS Control reported that after a 24-month course of methadone treatment, only 15 percent of patients still used drug but at a lesser level compared to pre-treatment period. In particular, the quality of life has improved for most patients, with more people getting jobs and fewer committing crime.

According to Nguyen Khac Dinh from the National Committee for AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control, the committee has set the goal to provide this drug replacement therapy to 80,000 addicts by 2015.

However, the programme’s coverage is still less than expected, particularly in localities with HIV/AIDS hotspots, he added.

Dinh also asked the Health Ministry and the 20 cities and provinces to set the target numbers of clinics and patients treated in 2014 and 2015 for each locality.

At the conference, participants scrutinised shortcomings and proposed measures to remove difficulties in the work so as to realise the treatment goal by 2015.-VNA