22 / 04 / 2017
Efficient implementation of SMT programs: Ukrainian experience for Kazakh colleagues

UIPHP leading expert Sergii Dvoriak presented Ukrainian experience in implementing substitution maintenance therapy (SMT) to narcologists and the heads of narcological institutions in the Republic of Kazakhstan

From Apr. 18-22, 2017 in Almaty, two two-day training sessions were delivered to narcologists and the heads of narcological institutions in the Republic of Kazakhstan on how to organize and efficiently implement substitution maintenance therapy (SMT).

Training in "Organization and Efficient Implementation of Substitution Maintenance Therapy" for the heads of narcological organizations and in "Provision of Substitution Maintenance Therapy to Persons Dependent on Opioids" for the medical personnel (narcologists) of SMT stations of the narcological organizations was jointly conducted by the Kazakhstan project implementation group of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Republican Mental Health Center. Over 50 participants attended the training sessions.

The implementation of SMT programs for injection drug users is still a hotly debated issue in Kazakhstan: how much morally is it to treat opioid addicts with opioids? The policy and practices of drug dependence therapy in the country is defined by its administrative authorities. Rehabilitation remains the main therapy method. Carried out usually as inpatient care, it is costly but ineffective. Coerced addiction treatment is also practiced.

Only 350 of nearly 115,000 injection drug users in Kazakhstan today receive treatment with opioid agonists. In particular, just seven patients undergo methadone treatment in the narcological dispensary of Almaty, a city with an almost two-million population.

Dr. Sergii Dvoriak, leading expert of the Ukrainian Institute on Public Health Policy, was the key lecturer at the training event. Presenting international and Ukrainian SMT implementation experience to his Kazakh colleagues, he covered a wide array of issues. These include the nature of drug dependence; basic principles, modern methods and therapeutic models of drug dependence treatment; economic expedience and effectiveness of SMT programs; etc. Since its way from negating to the broad implementation of SMT programs Ukraine went much earlier, the clinical and organizational experience it has gained is in demand among Kazakh narcology specialists at all levels.