17 Sep Ministry unveils plans to open more drug treatment centres

Written by Aye Myint San Published in Health Read 5665 times

The Ministry of Health is planning to open more centres to provide treatment and counselling for drug addicts, a senior official said on September 16.

The seven centres would open this month in townships throughout the country, the manager of the ministry's National Drug Abuse Control Program, Dr Hla Htay, told journalists at Yangon's Thingangkun Sanpay Hospital.

The centres are being opened by the ministry as part of a project supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The services available at the centres would include counselling, methadone replacement therapy for injecting drug users, and voluntary blood testing, Dr Hla Htay said.

“People in employment can visit the centre, take their medicine and return to work and the centre will also provide two days dosage of medicine if necessary," he said.

The centres will open in Yangon, as well as Myitkyina in Kachin State, Kyaukme, Lashio and Muse in Shan State and at Kale and Tamu in Sagaing Region.

The program has resulted in similar centres opening at more than 20 locations throughout Shan and Kachin states and Yangon, Mandalay and Sagaing regions.

In an interview published in Mizzima Business Weekly magazine early this month, Dr Hla Htay said there were about 75,000 injecting drug users in Myanmar.

He said the National Drug Abuse Control Program had 6,786 patients enrolled in methadone treatment in June this year, a figure which exceeded the treatment target for 2015 and highlighted the need to expand the program.

"We have nine percent of people who inject drugs receiving treatment, but we need to cover more," Dr Hla Htay said in the interview, published in the September 4 issue of Mizzima Business Weekly.

Myanmar has won praise for leading other Southeast Asian countries in the introduction of methadone treatment as part of the harm reduction approach to dealing with drug addiction.