The UN congratulates Viet Nam on the Commencement of the Methadone Substitution Programme

Hai Phong, April 29, 2008 – The United Nations congratulates Viet Nam on the introduction of methadone maintenance therapy in two clinics today in Hai Phong.

These clinics will be treating 700 heroin-dependent people with methadone from now to December 2008. One of the most effective treatments for heroin dependence, methadone is on the WHO List of Essential Medicines.

“The UN is pleased to be working with ministries, communities and other sectors in implementing effective harm reduction approaches ensuring a comprehensive response to HIV in Viet Nam,“ says Mr. Eamonn Murphy, Chair of the Joint UN Team on HIV and UNAIDS Country Director.

Forty years of international experience shows that methadone reduces illegal drug use, crime, mortality and the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. The new clinics in Hai Phong are expected to produce marked improvement in the lives of those affected by heroin dependence. The Methadone Substitution Programme will be expanded through the opening of clinics in HCMC later in May.

Substitution therapy is an important component of the 2006 Law on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control and is crucial to the success of Viet Nam’s response to the HIV epidemic, which is largely driven by injecting drug use. The United Nations supports the Government’s efforts to include methadone and other evidence-informed treatment regimens in the Law on Drug Prevention and Control, now under revision.

The United Nations applauds Viet Nam for taking this important step towards effective drug treatment and HIV prevention.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. David Jacka, Medical Officer-HIV-IDUs, World Health Organization (WHO)
Tel: (84-4) 3943 3734/5/6
Fax: (84-4) 3943 3740
Mobile: (84) 97 625 8134

Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam