Methadone Substitution Treatment now is available in Armenia
Sep 29, 2009 - The first in Armenia Methadone Substitution Treatment (MST) Department was officially opened on September 29 at the Narcological Clinic of Psychiatric Medical Centre of the Ministry of Health of Republic of Armenia.
A launching ceremony was held on this occasion. The department has been staffed with trained specialists, renovated, furnished and equipped with the financial support of the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation-Armenia (OSIAF-Armenia) and International Harm Reduction Development Program (IHRD). Key national and international actors in the field of drug treatment and demand reduction were invited to the ceremony, including Ministry of Health, National Center of AIDS Prevention, UNAIDS, WHO, UNDP, NGOs conducting harm reduction projects, etc.
The MST Department will provide long-term opioid replacement therapy to injecting drug users on daily bases. In parallel with methadone prescribed by the trained medical staff, patients enrolled in the MST program will also receive psycho-social support. Legal assistance is another opportunity open to the program beneficiaries within the OSI Law and Health Initiative.
Mentioning the event, Dr. Samvel Torosyan, Major Psychiatrist of the Ministry of Health said, “National counterparts with the support of OSI Armenia have been advocating MST in Armenia since 2005. Now, we are ready to provide people severely addicted to injecting opiates with the most cost-effective and internationally approved treatment modality, which, I strongly believe, would prevent the spread of blood-borne infections and improve their social functioning and quality of life”.
The next speaker, Mr. Michael Vardanyan, a top officer of the Drug Squad of Police, expressed the wish of his agency that MST program would reduce criminality among injecting drug users. He emphasized the need of such programs to return drug users back to their families.
Mrs. Larisa Minasyan, the Executive Director of OSIAF-Armenia briefed about the activities that the Open Society Institute had been running in Armenia in the field of harm reduction related to injecting drugs, as well as protecting the rights of people at most risk. She mentioned that since 2004 OSIAF-Armenia had been supporting syringe/needle exchange projects among injecting drug users in Vanadzor, the 3rd city of Armenia. Legal counseling to those people is also available through the another OSIAF-Armenia-supported program.
Mr. Michael Hall, the Caucasus and Central Asia Regional Director of OSI-New York joined Mrs. Minasyan in her speech and stressed the importance of the initiative.
Dr. Petros Semerjyan, Head of Narcological Clinic and Mr. Artur Potosyan, Coordinator of MST program in Yerevan introduced to the invitees the structure and operations to be held by the Department. All participants wished success to the new department in their work.
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