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Staff need professional skills in the fight to tackle drug abuse

Update: March, 13/2012 - 10:02

HA NOI — Strengthening the capacity of local authorities and staff is the key to improving the efficiency and sustainability of community based drug-abuse treatment and HIV prevention among ethnic minority people.

This was the conclusion of participants at a workshop held yesterday to review drug projects funded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and HIV prevention among ethnic minorities in northwest Viet Nam.

Participants also reviewed the availability of technical assistance to treatment and rehabilitation at institutional and community levels.

Nguyen Tuong Long, head of the Department for Social Evil Prevention in northern mountainous Lao Cai Province, one of the participating localities, said previous projects only focused on technical treatment methods for drug users. He said the professional skills of local staff remained weak.

"These two projects focus on training with the most advanced drug-treatment approaches," he said. "Staff will also share information and experience to improve counselling and rehabilitation services for drug addicts.

"Most former drug users feel better physically and spiritually after receiving consultations and education from local staff. Some have started their own businesses," Long said.

A representative from Dien Bien Province said thanks to increased capacity of local staff who had actively provided consultations and after-care services for local ethnic people there had been a positive change in public awareness.

"Many local people have stopped growing poppies and trafficking as well as using drugs. They even encourage their family members who are addicts to seek treatment at drug rehabilitation centres voluntarily," he said.

"Local people are now actively joining in harm-reduction programmes, such as using clean needles and condoms."

Vice chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Ethnic Minorities Phan Van Hung stressed that ethnic people were most vulnerable to drug abuse and HIV/AIDS because of their isolation.

He said there was a need to create information and education programmes in line with ethnic cultural traditions.

The project on drug treatment and HIV prevention among ethnic minorities in northwest Viet Nam ran from January, 2008, to March, 2012, in Son La, Dien Bien, Lao Cai and Yen Bai. It focused on drug abuse and HIV prevention, drug treatment and rehabilitation, relapse prevention, job creation and income increase.

The project on technical assistance in treatment and rehabilitation at centre and community levels was implemented from June 2006 to February 2012 in 10 provinces and cities. — VNS

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