UNODC launches Regional Toolkits on Methadone and Buprenorphine Substitution Treatment for Drug Users in South Asia

On 17 May 2012, on the occasion of the Project Steering Committee of the UNODC regional project "Prevention of Transmission of HIV among Drug Users in SAARC Countries" (Project RAS/H13), held in Sri Lanka, two critical intervention toolkits on Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) and Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST) (Buprenorphine) were launched.  The national Governments assisting the launch included  Ms Lubna, Minister of Health (Maldives), Mr Zafar Abbas, Secretary, Ministry of Narcotics Control (Pakistan), Dr. Waheed, Line Director, National AIDS Programme (Bangladesh), Dr. Krishna Kumar Rai, Director, National AIDS and STD  Control (Nepal)  and Mr. Gopi Menon, Country Manager, India and South Asia Regional Programs AusAID.

The Project Steering Committee-co-hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka- brought together the expertise of the national focal points, including representatives from the line ministries and mentor agencies from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, UNAIDS, WHO, AusAID as well as civil society. Government representatives of the countries made presentations on their  progress through the project.The event also served as a regional forum to share and learn from countries regarding implementation arrangements including regional and national coordination mechanisms.

Opening the meeting, Ms Cristina Albertin, Representative, UNODC ROSA underlined the significant achievements of this regional project both at the country and regional level, while also addressing the needs for sustainability and adapting to the changing development and external funding context.

Mr Kunal Kishore, Project Coordinator, highlighted the critical role of the project in handholding countries to reach national goals with regard to coverage, policy harmonisation, enabling environment and towards ensuring that interventions  are health centric and rights-based, in line with the global consensus on HIV prevention amongst drug users.

In South Asia, UNODC works with governments, civil society partners, bilateral/multilateral agencies and other stakeholders to include OST in the national response for drug treatment as well as for HIV prevention amongst drug users. UNODC is supporting the implementation of OST interventions in most South Asian countries, using both Buprenorphine and Methadone as medicines for substitution treatment, in line with the existing legal and policy frameworks of each country. One of the specific achievements of UNODC's work in South Asia through this project has been supporting the countries in initiating and scaling-up of OST programs, specifically in Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Nepal.

The toolkits on OST have been developed after intensive field testing, review of lessons learnt and taking into account feedback from counterparts and experts. UNODC hopes that through this document, Governments and implementing partners will avail of a practical tool, which does not only draw upon experiences in implementing OST in South Asian countries, but can also guide OST scale-up plans in their own countries.

Click here to read: Opioid Substitution Treatment (Buprenorphine) Toolkit

Click here to read: Methadone Maintenance Treatment Toolkit


These UNODC toolkits were possible thanks to the support and contributions of AusAID.