Press response: “Drug addicts threaten medical officer for methadone”

Press Response on article in New Straits Times Online, 18th August 2014
“Drug addicts threaten medical officers for methadone”

Ministry of Health is grateful over Cuepec’s concern on the security of health care workers providing methadone to drug addicts. The Ministry does not deny the report about aggressiveness in the clinics, but the case reported was isolated one and occurred 2 years ago.

This program has been successful in bringing down the new cases of HIV among drug users and Malaysia has been commended by many countries for having successfully implement the Harm Reduction Programme. As of today, we have a total of 811 facilities providing Oral Substitute Therapy (OST) which comprises of government clinics (46%), private clinics (45%), Agensi Anti-Dadah Kebangsaan (AADK) (7%) and prison (2%), reaching out to more than 60,000 drug addicts. Through OST, we achieved 85% client retention among drug addicts that is way above WHO target of 60%. Besides OST, Ministry of Health also provides Needle and Syringe Exchange Programme (NSEP) and currently, this programme has reached out to more than 76,000 drug users nationwide; both programmes have covered more than 80% of drug addicts who inject drugs (estimated about 170,000). The Ministry anticipates that there will be an increasing number of OST client in the future.

There is no urgency or necessity to install security system in Health Clinics as there was no regular reporting of aggressiveness since 2 years ago, which was partly because of a more stringent selection criteria of client. Regular advice and counselling by our health care providers to these drug addicts has so far able to prevent such incident. Client has been informed that they will be terminated from the programme if found aggressive and impose harm to health care workers or fellow clients.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah
Director General of Health Malaysia

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