Mwanza — THE government will soon include methadone in its top essential medicines list, procure and stock it for use by drug abuse victims.
This is different from the past where methadone, which proved to be efficient in assisting drug addicts, was availed through the support of the donor community in partnership with the StateSpeaking during the launch of the first clinic dedicated to drug addicts and users at the Sekou Toure Regional Referral Hospital, here yesterday, the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, confirmed the arrangement.
"Apart from regulating sober houses, tasked to rehabilitate drug abusers, the Ministry will start ordering methadone and include it in its essential medicines instead of depending on donors to supply it," he said.
The opening of the special clinic worth 132m/- in Mwanza Region was made possible through the assistance of the government, which dished out over 68.5m/-, while ICAP and Ariel Glasser Pediatrics AIDS Healthcare Initiative (AGPAHI) provided more than 64.2m/-.
Speaking at the event, the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority Commissioner General, Rogers William Sianga, said Mwanza Region is one of the popular destinations for drug dealers in the country, saying a special team from the Commission will soon camp there for action.
He said that apart from camping in Mwanza for a special operation, the Commission will design identity cards that will be given to victims when receiving treatment at hospital or sober houses.
"Those cards will help identify the victims so that they will not be attacked when they turn violent, as they attend treatment. Instead, they should be assisted and immediately taken to hospital for medical attention," said Commissioner Sianga.
The Mwanza Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Leonard Subi, said the region had between 10,000 and 15,000 drug users and addicts, who mostly abuse khat, marijuana, heroin and cannabis, adding that over 50 per cent of all psychiatric patients have had a history of abusing drugs.
The event was also attended by Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa who underscored the importance of the rehabilitation programme for the drug abuse victims, citing their special clinics in Dar es Salaam, Iringa and now Mwanza.
He said the government had decided to license private institutions and members of the community to operate sober houses, with special conditions that will be provided by authorities under his office.
"And, apart from rehabilitation, the government is also working on an arrangement where training colleges will be opened for drug abuse victims to gain various entrepreneurship skills and become economically independent," said the PM