The Durban University of Technology in association with the TB/HIV Care held a workshop on and opioid substitution therapy demonstration project (OST) at the Drop in Centre in Umbilo, last week.
The OST project is implemented by the DUT and TB/HIV Care and is the first OST project to be launched in Durban. It has been initiated to help drug abusers with a methadone drug that helps the system from wanting illegal drugs.
In attendance were people from different government departments, HIV/AIDS departments, department of health, both regional and provincial as well as other organisations.
DUT’s Professor Monique Marks, said she is grateful with how the institution has been so supportive towards the project. She also added that even though it has not been easy , she is happy with how far they have come. “We have experienced many challenges but we are managing. DUT has been very supportive in terms of funding and many faculties in DUT have also partnered with HIV Care and for that I am grateful,” said Prof Marks.
There are already 36 clients on OST, it works as a substitution that makes life tolerable to people without harm and its initial results are promising and are likely to provide great lessons for the province and country. Dr Terrence Moodley from the TB/HIV Care, said OST does not only cater for drug users but also helps people in treatment on HIV and TB as it has a number of benefits with no harm or addiction.
“I am happy to be associated with such an initiative because I have seen people’s lives change through using OST and we want to introduce this project provincially and internationally,” said Moodley.
What most clients on the OST had in common was the influence of friends which led them to being drug users and the lack of family support.
Malusi Mbathe, who has been on OST for two months, said he now has better relationship with his family, and is grateful for this project. He also wants to go back to school and live the life he once imagined for himself
“I have been smoking for seven years and I lost all my friends and family but joining this project has really helped me. Though it’s been tough with the OST, I am now cured and thankful to everyone that has contributed to my well-being,” said Mbathe.
Pictured: DUT staff members, TB/HIV Care staff members and OST clients.