International health experts criticise Vietnam’s estimated 70 compulsory drug treatment centres.
The centres are part of a government strategy aimed at “correcting the illegal behaviours of drug use and sex work”, according to UNAIDS.
They are believed to hold 20,000-70,000 drug addicts and/or former sex workers, said a Hanoi-based health expert familiar with Vietnam’s drug treatment procedures.
Vietnam’s compulsory treatment centres “are counterproductive on every single level,” said Simon Baldwin, a former senior technical officer for HIV and drugs, at the US NGO Family Health International, which is working on drug treatment in Vietnam.
More than 90 percent of injecting drug users held at these centres relapse into drug addiction upon release, according to UNAIDS.
Beneficiaries at the centres, which began opening in the mid-2000s, are supposed to receive counselling, health checks, and vocational training to assist recovery and prevent relapse. But according to health experts, employees are not trained to treat drug addiction, and the fear of being sent to the centres encourages drug users to go underground.
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