HA NOI — Heroin detoxification programmes in northwestern provinces are achieving satisfactory results, despite many obstacles, said Do Thi Ninh Xuan, deputy director of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs' Department for the Prevention of Social Evils.
In the four years up until 2011, more than 44,000 heroin addicts were detoxified in the area - an average of about 11,000 a year.
Tuyen Quang Province has weaned nearly 5,000 addicts off the drug in three stages from 1996.
In the first period, addicts were given medical treatment and physical therapy to raise their strength.
In the next period, they worked in a construction site for one to two years to rehabilitate their behaviour and personality.
And in the last period, they were managed in their localities and given jobs.
Another good model of detoxification in commune groups was in Lao Cai Province. A Community Detoxification Centre was established in Muong Hum Commune and heroin addicts were treated at the centre.
When physically and psychologically clear of the drug, the addicts voted for outstanding trainees who would borrow capital with interest to buy young trees or livestock and poultry.
To supervise and support heroin addicts after detoxification, the province set up weekly clubs under management of a committee with five or seven members from local agencies.
By the end of 2010, the Muong Hum Community Detoxification Centre successfully treated more than 630 people for heroin addiction, making up about 84 per cent of the heroin addicts in the province.
However, expanding the good models established at Tuyen Quang and Lao Cai as well as other provinces had met many difficulties, said Xuan.
One of obstacles was local residents' habit of planting opium poppies, she said.
Besides, the area had a long frontiers with China making the check of illegal heroin entry more difficult.
Some detoxification centres had limited infrastructure and medical and vocational equipment, said Xuan.
"Discrimination is a big obstacle in helping heroin addicts re-integrate with the community," she said.
In future, the department will re-arrange the system of detoxification centres. Small centres will be set up in districts and communes so that the department can co-operate with local authorities and the community, said Xuan.
The department is now researching and editing a new detoxification plan. It will be submitted to the Government by the end of this year.
More than 43,000 people are reported to be addicted to heroin in 14 provinces in the north-west areas, a decrease by about 1,500 compared with previous years, according to statistics of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
The rate of heroin addicts in the area is 291/100,000 whereas the rate of the country is 176/100,000. — VNS