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Ministry moots upgrade to drug treatment efforts

A man consumes methadone at a hospital in Phnom Penh in 2014. The Ministry of Health has devised a committee to revamp drug treatment.
A man consumes methadone at a hospital in Phnom Penh in 2014. The Ministry of Health has devised a committee to revamp drug treatment. Pha Lina

Ministry moots upgrade to drug treatment efforts

A ministry of Health committee is working on a new action plan to revamp community-based drug treatment and counselling to specifically respond to a nationwide anti-drug campaign, a ministry official said yesterday.

Dr Lon Chanraksmey, chief secretary of the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Committee, said the committee met on Thursday and approved several measures for an action plan that will be submitted to Health Minister Mam Bunheng, who chairs the committee, for final approval.

Some of the measures include new temporary drug treatment centres in all provinces, the development of treatment procedures, rehabilitation and reintegration programs and strengthening the existing 177 community-based drug treatment centres.

“We will discuss more this week before submitting [the action plan] for approval,” Chanraksmey said.

However, Sou Sochenda, a policy specialist with NGO Khana, said civil society organisations are not included in the committee, but play an important role in connecting drug users with treatment.

“We are working to request the government [to include] civil society organisations in the anti-drug campaign,” she said, adding that there’s a meeting later this week with ministry officials in which NGOs hope to raise their “concerns”.

Dr Yel Daravuth, with WHO Cambodia, said the WHO provides support to the ministry by training health centre staff on how to provide counselling to drug users.

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