Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered local authorities nationwide to ensure sufficient medical staff, equipment and money to provide more methadone treatment for drug addicts.

The country is striving to have 30,850 patients receiving this therapy by the year’s end and increase the figure to over 81,000 by 2015.

Major cities such as Hai Phong, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are tasked to treat the largest number of heroin dependants.

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) programme was initially piloted in Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City in April 2008, and then spread to 32 cities and provinces nationwide, with more than 17,500 patients being treated at 92 clinics.

After a 12-month treatment course, the percentage of patients who are at high risk of depression slid to 15 percent from 80 percent. Many have gained weight and seen their physical and mental health stabilise.

Meanwhile, the rate of legal violators has dropped to 1.3 percent from 40.8 percent, according to the Ministry of Health.

This treatment has also proved economical, according to the preliminary survey in 11 provinces and cities. It showed that a heroin addict wastes 230,000 VND (10.8 USD) per day for buying drugs (around 84 million VND or 4,000 USD per year). In comparison, the cost for methadone treatment ranges between 6 and 8 million VND.-VNA