Vietnam Strives to Sustain Drug Treatment with Second Co-Pay Methadone Clinic Opened in Lao Cai

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

LAO CAI, October 30, 2013 -- Vietnam’s second co-pay methadone clinic where treatment costs are shared by drug users and government funding opened today in Lao Cai with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This clinic is modeled on the success of the first one that was put into use two years ago in Hai Phong.

The co-pay model creates an opportunity for opioid drug users to obtain quality treatment services at minimum cost. Under this co-pay system, the cost for methadone treatment will be shared by the Government and drug users. USAID is providing funding for the methadone medication and technical assistance to the clinic.

"The opening of the co-pay methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinic in Lao Cai underscores the strong commitment by the leadership in Lao Cai to effectively respond to the drug epidemic and the threat of HIV in this area. MMT helps drug users return to a normal life, lowers the risk of HIV transmission and brings hope to families,” said Christopher Detwiler, PEPFAR Coordinator, at the opening ceremony.  “The Lao Cai People's Committee, DOLISA, the Department of Health Services and the Public Security Department should be commended for bringing this innovative improvement to the health and wellbeing of the people in the province.”

With donor support for HIV programs decreasing, Vietnam is looking for new ways to finance critical prevention activities such as methadone treatment. This model of cost sharing between the local health department, USAID under the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and patients will chart a way forward for sustainable, community-led drug treatment options.

“The socialization methadone treatment is an appropriate solution to the current economic situation in Lao Cai and will ensure the sustainability of the program,” said Mrs. Ha Thu Nga, Vice Chairman of Lao Cai People’s Committee. “We highly appreciate the support from international organizations, especially the financial support of PEPFAR program and the technical assistance from the USAID project.”

The new MMT clinic in Lao Cai, where an estimated 40 percent of injection drug users are HIV positive, can serve up 300 heroin dependent individuals and provides addiction treatment and links to HIV/AIDS care and treatment services. Vietnam now has 72 MMT clinics in 27 provinces/cities providing services for nearly 15,000 intravenous drug users.

PEPFAR through USAID has actively supported methadone maintenance therapy initiatives in Vietnam since 2008 and continues its commitment in reducing HIV and other related diseases among drug users, alleviating drug dependence, and supporting drug users' reintegration into the community in Vietnam. Since 2004, PEPFAR has provided more than $575 million to support Vietnam's efforts to prevent, control, and treat HIV/AIDS.

Last updated: April 15, 2014

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