Oct. 28, 2010.
WHO, Phnom Penh: The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and his wife, Ban Soon-taek, visited Cambodia’s first methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) clinic earlier today in central Phnom Penh as part of a two-day visit to the Kingdom.
During his brief visit, the UN Secretary General unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit and learned of the objectives of the methadone programme and its achievements since dosing began on July 1, 2010.
The UNSG and his wife met with six methadone patients who represent the wide range of socio-economic backgrounds of the current 61 clients enrolled in the programme.
Each of the six patients received their respective doses of methadone from the UN Secretary General, and his wife, who had requested the opportunity to assist.
Following the signing of the MMT Clinic visitor’s book, the UN Secretary General was presented with a silver plate depicting the famous temples of Angkor Wat by the Clinic Director, Dr. Chhit Sophal, and a representative of the methadone patients to thank him for his interest in the programme.
In this speech to the audience and crowd who can come to see the UNSG make this special visit, Ban Ki-moon noted that the methadone programme, “is providing an important service, not just to people struggling to conquer addiction, but to the broader community.”
The UN Secretary General continued, “I commend the Government of Cambodia for launching this pilot programme. Evidence shows that such initiatives are more effective than incarceration in addressing the social problems caused by addiction.”
The combined and ongoing efforts of several UN agencies in Cambodia was emphasised by Ban Ki-moon, in particular with respect to the new, innovative approaches to drug treatment in the Kingdom through the community-based drug treatment programme initiated by UNODC with the support of WHO and UNAIDS, that has been formally adopted by the entire UN Country Team in Cambodia.
The UNSG praised Cambodia for its successes in its response to HIV/AIDS whilst noting the challenges still ahead: “I would like to congratulate the Government of Cambodia on receiving the MDG Award [for] its work on HIV/AIDS. The UN System will continue to assist the Government to maintain its achievements and to focus on developing a continuum of prevention, care and treatment for HIV/AIDS for populations most at-risk – including entertainment workers, men who have sex with men, and drug users.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, the UN Secretary General commented, “I look forward to continued partnership between the Government and the United Nations system to deliver evidence-based approaches to drug-related problems.”
Summary compiled by Graham Shaw, Technical Officer: HIV/AIDS, Drug Dependence and Harm Reduction, WHO, Cambodia.