A new project to improve community health services for people who abuse drugs kicked off Feb. 16 in the northern Port City of Hai Phong .

The 120,000 USD project was organised by the city's Department of Labour, War Invalid and Social Affairs and the Bureau of Social Evils Prevention, with support from Family Health International (FHI) and sponsorship from Atlantic Philanthropies.

Social workers will be trained to help drug users access treatment services in the community.

According to Family Health International, Hai Phong has 8,000 habitual drug users. About 2,000 of them are being cared for at centres.

Caroline Francis, deputy director of FHI in Vietnam , said Hai Phong is the leading locality in providing health services for drug users.

The city's methadone programme together with other services have helped improve the health of drug users.

The project has created opportunities for social work students to improve their experiences and practices in the community.

Le Thi Dai, deputy director of the city's Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said she hoped the project willlead to new policies for drug users that will help them return to normal lives.

The project is part of the Government's scheme to develop social work as a professional occupation by 2020./.