Bangkok, 17 September 2010 (IRIN) – Cambodia is piloting its first methadone clinic for heroin addicts, a move welcomed by NGOs after the government was heavily criticized for its boot-camp style drug-rehab facilities.
Methadone is a heroin substitute used to assuage withdrawal symptoms and for decades has been the treatment method preferred by health practitioners in developed countries, even though it comes with its own addiction problems.
Introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and administered by the Ministry of Health, the year-long pilot programme officially launched this week in the capital, Phnom Penh.
“We don’t have a strong history of [professional] drug treatment in Cambodia,” Chhit Sophal, head of the Ministry of Health’s Centre for Mental Health and Drug dependence and in charge of the programme, told IRIN. “This centre can be a model and other centres here can learn from it.”