6 Aug : A five -day training on Opiod Substitution Therapy (OST) for Injection Drug Users (IDU) of Punjab was organised by the PGIMER, School of Public Health’s State Training Resource Centre. This training was organised in collaboration with Punjab SACS and Department for International Development (DFIS-TAST). A total of 33 participants from Amritsar, Taran –Taran and Ludhiana including doctors, staff nurses, counsellors and staff of NGO’s implementing targeted interventions for IDU’s attended the training.
Recent reports from NACO’s sentinel surveillance have suggested high HIV prevalence of 26% among IDUs in Punjab. In order to combat the rising problem of HIV among injecting drug users, a program for oral substitution with opiod drugs is being started for IDUs on a pilot basis for the first time in Punjab. It is the first time that such a program is being introduced in India, with a partnership between Government and NGO sector.
Dr. Atul Ambekar, Assistant Professor at the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, New Delhi was lead resource person. He highlighted the need for introducing harm reduction strategies for IDU’s to combat the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS among IDU’s. It was also informed that oral bupremorphine drug would be used for substituting injection drug use.
Dr. N.M. Sharma, Additional Project Director, Punjab SACS reiterated the commitment of Health Department, Government of Punjab to implement this new OST program under National AIDS Control Program.
The second batch of training for 30 participants from Batala and Jallandhar will be held from 16-20th August, 2010.