The Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday it would increase its subsidies for methadone therapy programs.
“After the methadone therapy program began in 2006, the number of new HIV infections decreased from 2,381 in 2005 to 368 in 2008. Those figures prove that methadone therapy helps drug addicts avoid AIDS,” Bureau of Mental Health section chief Chou Sun-yuan (周孫元) said.
Under the new measures, the subsidies for non-HIV carriers will be increased by NT$2,600 (US$79) to NT$4,600 for the first outpatient visit, officials said. A restriction whereby addicts could only receive the subsidy — of up to NT$13,960 a year — once in a lifetime has also been lifted.
Also lifted was a restriction that addicts were not allowed to obtain subsidies from the DOH if they had received more than NT$16,000 in subsidies from the Ministry of Justice, they said.
Bureau of Mental Health head Happy Tan (陳快樂) said department statistics showed there are approximately 40,000 drug addicts in Taiwan but only about 12,000 have maintained their methadone therapy.
“I believe this new policy will encourage more drug addicts to take part now that financial burden has been reduced,” Tan said.
The DOH estimated that the new policy would cost approximately NT$190 million.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA