VietNamNet Bridge – Just 10 per cent of the drug addicts nationwide had received the methadone maintenance treatment so far, officials said a recent workshop.





They said that 22,000 addicts from 38 cities and provinces nationwide had received the treatment as of November 15.

The workshop, which aimed to assess drug use and access to methadone programmes, was part of a project being implemented by the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Primarily used in World War II to relieve pain, methadone is a long-acting synthetic opiate with pharmacological effects similar to morphine. In 1964, Dr. Marie Nyswander and Dr. Vincent Dole found out that methadone was effective in helping patients overcome their addiction to heroin.

Nguyen Hoang Long, head of the Ministry of Health's HIV/AIDS Prevention Department, said dependence on central agencies' support, lack of priority accorded by local administrations and a shortage of human resources have prevented more patients from receiving the treatment.

While addicts have spoken highly of the methadone treatment, providing it has not been easy. The increasing number of people using synthetic drugs as well as a supply shortage in several localities have left addicts in the lurch, an official from Hai Phong told the workshop.

Participants discussed several other issues including the need for a comprehensive legislative framework that would facilitiate the provision of alternative treatments using methadone, community-based responsese to drug addiction and measures to remove barriers to methadone treatment.