HCM CITY — Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong has asked HCM City authorities to extend methadone maintenance treatment to drug users in the city as a measure to fight crime and reduce HIV transmission.
HCM City and Ha Noi will be the country's first localities to produce methadone in order to ensure sufficient supply for scaling up the pilot methadone programme and provide the treatment to intravenous drug users nationwide, Trong said during his visit to a methadone clinic in the city's District 8 yesterday.
District 8 is a hotspot in the illegal drug trade and leads the city in drug-related crime, according to Colonel Phan Anh Minh, deputy director of the city's Public Security.
Trong, who is also chairman of the national committee for preventing HIV/AIDS transmission, drug abuse and prostitution, urged district authorities to step up the fight against drug trafficking.
"The fight and prevention against drug-related crime should be taken in tandem with urban development, job creation, vocational training and credit support for poor households as well as education and propagation activities among community," he said.
Hua Ngoc Thuan, deputy chairman of the city's People's Committee, said that drug crimes in District 8 had reversed to an upward trend this year after a record drop between 2009 and 2010 due to coordinated effort by departments, agencies and local residents.
In 2009 the police broke 260 cases and arrested 1,597 people involved in drug trafficking and hoarding, according to a report by the District 8 People's Committee.
Last year the number of cases declined to 162 with 814 people involved, the report said.
However, the first three months of the year saw 55 cases involving 326 people, an increase of 18 cases and 268 people against the corresponding period last year.
Thuan blamed the upward trend of drug crimes in the district to a halt in the anti-drug programme that was carried out in 2009 and 2010 under direct instructions from the city People's Committee.
He said more than 7,000 drug users were being treated in 16 drug rehabilitation centres in the city and more than 19,000 former addicts were trying to re-integrate into society.
The city now has five methadone clinics in districts 4, 6, 8, Binh Thanh and Thu Duc, providing methadone maintenance therapy, general health care and drug dependence counseling to nearly 1,000 drug users.
It plans to open two additional clinics in the city's outlying districts this year, Thuan said. — VNS