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Tanzania: Anti-Drug Crusade Leads to Scarcity of Methadone Med

Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu, in an interview with the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam yesterday, said restricting the medication imports has made it hard for hospitals to provide the drugs to increased number of new patients.

“As we speak, we have ordered methadone from Zanzibar for supply at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) as well as Mwananyamala and Temeke Regional Hospitals in Dar es Salaam,” Ms Mwalimu said.

She added; “Admission of the medicine is also controlled since continued use can lead to drug abuse. Methadone is not among drugs procured and stored by the Medical Stores Department (MSD).”

Hospitals administering the drug to addicts have to place orders at the MSD which then seeks an approval from the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) to procure the medicine as per requirements submitted by the health facilities, explained the minister.

She said plans were underway to scale-up the medication supply to upcountry regions of Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya and Mwanza, among others.

“We understand that the ongoing purge on narcotics will lead to increased demand of methadone and as such, the government is prepared to provide the medicine for the drug addicts,” she stated. A daily English newspaper reported yesterday deaths of two suspected drug addicts in Mwanza allegedly due to failure to get the illicit drugs.

The deaths have been associated with withdrawal symptoms. Appearing on a local TV station over the weekend, the Commissioner General of the Drugs Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA), Mr Rodgers Sianga, confirmed to have heard of the Mwanza deaths.

“There are those who have surrendered at various hospitals hoping to be provided with the medication,” the DCEA boss explained. Speaking last week at a Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda organised meeting, Mr Sianga spoke at length on the effects of illicit drugs to users, hinting that sudden withdrawal could lead to deaths.

“Our approach in dealing with the menace will focus on three aspects, curbing supply and demand as well as harm reduction for those already affected by the drugs,” he said.

There have also been reports of drugs addicts turning up at police stations countrywide and eventually helping the law enforcers to apprehend drug peddlers.

©Alleastafrica and Daly News 

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