NGO reintegrates treated drug victims into society

TANGA: AN indigenous NGO, Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS), is taking proactive measures to support graduates of Medically Assisted Treatment Centres (MAT) who have received methadone treatment.

Operating in four districts on the Tanzanian mainland, THPS is at the forefront of providing meaningful solutions for the successful reintegration of individuals into society.

THPS is currently implementing a comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment project with financial support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Shinyanga, Coast, and Kigoma areas since October 2021.

Tanga Region was added in October of this year.

According to the Executive Director of the organisation Dr Redempta Mbatia, THPS is now supporting vocational training for MAT clients.

“This has been one of our key interventions – reintegrating our clients back into their families and societies through family therapy and vocational training,” Dr Mbatia said.

To date, 114 clients have successfully completed various courses and graduated from the Kibaha Vocational Institute in the Coast region.

Recently, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health also emphasised the need to consider the future of people who inject and use drugs and are being treated at MAT clinics.

She requested PEPFAR to collaborate with the government in establishing an empowerment program that would assist these MAT graduates in engaging in income-generating activities to prevent relapse into drug addiction.

THPS was established in 2011 as part of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) five-year strategy to transition from international organisations involved in an emergency response to the epidemic to indigenous partners leading sustainable country programs.

Dr Mbatia stated that THPS, which has collaborated with the government and civil society organisations for 12 years, has implemented specific comprehensive HIV prevention, care, and treatment interventions for vulnerable populations, including people who inject drugs.

“We are committed to improving access, retention, harm reduction, and prevention programs for these groups, recognising their elevated risk and burden,” she revealed.

Dr Mbatia mentioned that through a PEPFAR/CDC-funded project, the organisation currently supports harm reduction activities at three Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) clinics in two regions.

“From October 2021 to September 2023, 870 clients have newly enrolled, and 81 of them, or 10 per cent are HIV positive and receiving antiretroviral therapy,” Dr Mbatia disclosed.

The Director of the Tanga CSO, Gift of Hope Foundation, Said Bandawe, stated that THPS assistance has enabled the CSO to increase the number of experts to seven.

“We have strengthened the community service providers’ team, and we expect to expand to have representatives in all the districts in Tanga Region,” Bandawe pointed out.

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