NDARC was delighted to host Senator Risa Hontiveros and Gari Lazaro from the Republic of the Philippines at a visit to the Centre on March 23. In opening the meeting NDARC Director, Professor Michael Farrell emphasised the importance of rigorous research to inform public policy.
A number of NDARC staff presented their current research to Senator Hontiveros and Mr Lazaro. Kate Dolan spoke about her research on HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis in Cebu City jails and Caitlin Hughes presented on the components of good drug policy.
Thu Vuong presented the compelling results of her PhD study on the cost effectiveness of compulsory treatment of drug dependent non offenders compared with community treatment in Vietnam and Asia Pacific. The world first study showed that voluntary community-based methadone treatment (MMT) was not only more effective but also less costly than the compulsory detention centre approach. MMT was 4.6 times more effective in reducing heroin use and was one third cheaper. The findings of this study has been used for drug policy advocacy in Vietnam and has made a contribution to the re-allocation of resources, resulting in a ten-fold increase in funding from the Vietnamese Government into MMT during the last 2 years.
Senator Hontiveros and her staff are preparing a bill on public health and drug use and at grassroots level advocating an alternative to the country’s current War on Drugs Policy including harm reduction, diversion and decriminalisation. The most commonly used illicit drugs in the Philippines are amphetamines and cannabis.
The visit was facilitated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.