Vietnam aims to reduce by around a third the number of drug addicts nationwide by 2010 and improve rehabilitation services, the government said in a statement on Monday, June 27.
By late 2010, the country had a total of more than 170,000 drug users of which 70 percent were young people, according to statistics compiled by the National Committee for HIV/AIDS, Drug and Prostitution Prevention and Control. The official number of drug users as of late 2009 was 146,730.
"By 2020, the number of drug users is expected to reduce by between 30 and 40 percent. Seventy percent of communes nationwide will be drug-free and 90 percent of government offices, companies, schools and organizations will not have drug users," the government's statement said, announcing the launch of ten-year strategy to fight drug abuse.
A conference held by the committee early this year reported that drug users were to be found in all 63 provinces and cities. Ninety percent of districts and 56.5 percent of communes nationwide were home to drug addicts, according to media reports.
The number of injecting drug users has increased sharply from 46.4 percent in 2001 to 85 percent in 2009, and this was a major cause for spreading HIV and AIDS, the conferences heard. Vietnam's HIV epidemic is concentrated among people who inject drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men.
The new strategy aims to detect all drug users and provide 90 percent of them with access to rehabilitation services and vocational training centers. It also aims at reducing the percentage of relapsed drug users by 10-15 percent.
The strategy envisages the strengthening of enforcement activities against drug smuggling in border areas with cases busted in the regions making up 30 percent of the nationwide total.
The government will issue more policies to support rehabilitated drug addicts, including creating jobs and encouraging companies to recruit them.
The number of people using methamphetamine is expected to increase, including among young people and students in urban areas and there is a potential for illegal cannabis farming in many provinces.
The government statement said that the new strategy addresses several challenges, including the "complicated" situation of drug smuggling in Vietnam and abroad, with smugglers constantly changing their ploys and maintaining tight connections with criminals in money laundering, arms smuggling and other activities.