Health service for drug addicts launched

Kathmandu, October 30:

The Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital today launched the Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) programme, an emergency response on oral substitution for injecting drugs users (IDU).

The MMT service includes emergency response team, steered by the technical working group on Oral Substution Therapy (OST) and a social support unit (SSU).

While the OST will substitute injecting drugs by methadone, the SSU will provide social support to the drug users including counselling and other services besides clinical dispensing and medical referral. IDUs are increasing in the country and so is the risk of infection of HIV positive and Hepatitis among the drug users, a press release issued by the UNAIDS (Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS), said.

HIV prevalence in the IDUs in Kathmandu is 51 per cent, and it is 31 per cent in eastern Tarai and 21 per cent in Pokhara, the statement said.

“The MMT was established as per the need assessment and this would reduce drug users in general and at the same time reduce the frequency of injection and other associated behaviours,” the statement said adding that this is an efficient approach for HIV prevention, improvement of overall health status of drug users and enabling their re-socialisation process.

Olivier Lermet of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said, “The service should be developed in such a way that it not only gets people enter the treatment, but also encourage them to stay there, complete the treatment and get maximum benefit from it.”

The emergency response on the OST is steered by a technical working group chaired by undersecretary of Ministry of Home Affairs and supported by UNODC.

It is composed of representatives from the Ministry of Health and Population, TUTH, Mental Hospital, Recovery Nepal and other civil society members.