Another 250 methadone clinics will be opened around the country by 2015 to treat 80,000 intravenous drug users, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long has said.

The methadone treatment programme, launched in Ho Chi Minh City and northern Hai Phong city in 2008, has been expanded to 20 cities and provinces nationwide, with 60 clinics offering maintenance therapy to nearly 13,000 addicts, Long told a conference held in Hanoi on April 2.

There are no serious side-effects or fatalities associated with the therapy, he said.

The therapy only costs patients 15,000 VND (0.7 USD) a day, he added.

The Ministry of Health’s study of 1,000 patients at six methadone clinics in Hai Phong showed the therapy improved patients' health and living quality significantly.

Many had found stable jobs, resulting in a steep fall in illegal behaviours, according to the study.-VNA