Report Launch: Hong Kong’s Common-Sense Approach to Expanding Methadone Treatment

While a number of countries are experimenting with new approaches to drug policy, across much of Asia aggressive drug policies continue to prevail, as seen in the Philippines and Indonesia. One exception to that trend is Hong Kong’s methadone treatment program that was informed by global best practice but localized for the needs of Hong Kong. It is a bright spot in the region that can serve as a model for other countries that want to develop and enact drug policies rooted in public health and social support.

Started in 1975 in response to a growing health and social crises with a growing number of opiate-dependent, heroin-injecting residents, the Hong Kong methadone program aims to make drug treatment accessible to all who need and want it through its 20 clinics around the territory. Not only has Hong Kong’s methadone treatment approach provided an essential service to those living with opioid addiction, but it has also contributed to the successful control of HIV and Hepatitis C infection. The program’s success hinges on a number of qualities including accessible hours and locations, robust staffing and an understanding that abstinence should not be the only goal when supporting people with drug dependency.
Panelists include:

  • Dr. Robert Newman, MD, MPH, President Emeritus, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York (Author)
  • Professor . Shui Shan Lee, Deputy Director of Stanley Ho Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Dr. Addi KH Chan, Senior Medical & Health Officer, Department of Health, HKSAR
  • Dr. Kasia Malinowska, Director of the Global Drug Policy Program, Open Society Foundations
  • Prof. Karen A Joe Laidler, Director of Centre for Criminology, The University of Hong Kong (moderator)