The project involved establishing a methadone clinic for female drug users in Iran. The Clinic would have a range of services for the women such as primary health care, sexual health care and staff such as a social worker, a psychologist and a lawyer. The clinic would also provide condoms and a needle and syringe program and employment training.
Dr Bijan Nassirimanesh (Persepolis NGO)
Dr Azarakhsh Mokri (Iranian National Centre of Addiction Studies, Tehran University of Medical Sciences)
The aims of this project are as follows:
- To improve the health, welfare and social functioning of women who use drugs in Tehran
- To design, deliver and evaluate a co-ordinated range of services to meet the health and welfare needs of this vulnerable population
- To provide services that are non-judgemental, professional, culturally sensitive, accessible and acceptable to Iranian women in this target population
The activities to be carried out in this program of work are as follows:
- To design programs and establish a women only community based clinic to provide a range of services including: methadone maintenance treatment, sexual health services, needle syringe program, contraception and family planning, primary healthcare, counselling, employment training, legal services and a drop in centre
- To undertake research and produce evidence on the efficacy of project activities including a study of the prison methadone program
Over 100 women attended our clinic in the first year. Of the 78 women recruited, 40 were followed up, approximately seven months later. Most women were chronic drug users with a multitude of problems who had received no prior treatment for their drug problem. One in four women reported a history of drug injection. The women had improved outcomes in a number of areas; drug use, social functioning and HIV risk behaviour.
Four presentations have been made at International conferences. Journal articles have been published (1), are in press (2) or in preparation (1). A book is being written on the clinic and a cohort of clients.
A large number of women with no exposure to treatment for drug problems responded well to treatment. There are now five clinics for female drug user s in Tehran.