Press Releases 2012
American People Sponsor Medication Assisted Treatment Program at Mwananyamala Regional Hospital
September 7, 2012
On Friday September 7, the launch of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) was held at Mwananyamala Regional Hospital in Kinondoni District of Dar es Salaam. Guests included the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Honorable Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, U.S. Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt, representatives from the Government of Tanzania, Mwananyamala Regional Hospital medical officers and staff, and local and international NGO directors.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), also known as methadone therapy, has been recognized as an essential element of comprehensive services for people who inject drugs (PWID). It effectively contributes to the reduction of HIV incidence among PWID and is established as a valuable treatment for opioid dependence. The program uses daily, individualized dosing of methadone for PWID experiencing opioid dependence to stop withdrawal symptoms while simultaneously decreasing cravings. The therapy has proven to reduce risky behaviors associated with injection drug use that contribute to HIV transmission, such as using non-sterile injecting equipment and engaging in commercial sex. Having overcome their addiction, clients living with HIV and enrolled in treatment also typically exhibit improved adherence to antiretroviral drug treatment.
In his remarks, Ambassador Lenhardt outlined recent progress made in promoting health programs in Tanzania by stating: "With support from the American people through PEPFAR and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in collaboration with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, the first MAT clinic of continental sub-Saharan Africa was opened just over a year ago at Muhimbili National Hospital. As the first of its kind in the region, the program began cautiously with hopes of serving around 200 clients. I’m happy to report that the Muhimbili MAT clinic now has a current enrollment of over 500 individuals." The Ambassador also renewed the United States' commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS and improving the health of all Tanzanians with effective, high-impact programs such as MAT.
The new Mwananyamala MAT clinic expects to build off the momentum of the Muhimbili program and is being implemented on a larger scale with hopes to reach a greater number of clients (up to 1,500). Situated in the heart of Kinondoni District, the clinic will be accessible to a larger catchment area.
There are as many as 25,000 PWID in Tanzania- 15,000 estimated in Dar es Salaam, alone- so the need for MAT interventions is great. Within that demographic, the estimated HIV infection rate is alarmingly high, from 40% of men to up to 60%-70% of women on the mainland.
MAT in Tanzania is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation provides technical assistance for MAT. The collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, the Tanzanian Drug Control Commission, and CDC covers community outreach services and supports four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kinondoni district of Dar es Salaam. These NGOs include: Youth Volunteers Against Risky Behaviors (YOVARIBE), Center for Human Rights Promotion (CHRP), Kimara Peer Educator and Health Promoters, and Blue Cross Society of Tanzania.