Hanoi struggles to attract new methadone treatment patients hinh anh 1Methadone doses are dispensed to patients. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi is struggling to increase the number of applications for its methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinics which have proved themselves to be a cost-saving and effective detoxification method, said Director of the municipal Department of Health Nguyen Khac Hien.

The MMT clinics were opened to help the city’s 8,500 drug addicts improve their mental and physical health and reintegrate into the community. Once permitted to one of the city’s seven clinics, patients are provided with free health check-ups and testing as well as free methadone doses that suit their needs.

According to La Thi Lan, Deputy Director of the Hanoi HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Centre, only 8 percent of local drug addicts had access to MMT due to the stressful application procedure that requires them to be registered with their local commune police. The city has remedied this by removing police involvement and enabling users to directly apply for the MMT.

Other barriers include the fear of drug rehabilitation and the lack of awareness of the new method.

To raise the number of patients using MTT, the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control has expanded the network of methadone dispensers at the commune level, provided MMT at prisons, accelerated medical staff training and ensured sufficient dose supply.-VNA