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Anti-Narcotic Drive
July 26, 2007

China seeks cooperation to eradicate poppy cultivation
China wants further co-operation with countries in the Greater Mekong area to eradicate poppy cultivation in the notorious Golden Triangle, Channel News Asia reported.

For the National Narcotics Control Commission, the priority of future drug-control is zero poppy cultivation in the region.

There are more than 100 methadone clinics in China where over 15,000 drug abusers have received treatment since 2004.

In the south-western province of Yunnan, drugs are so cheap, it is said that an average addict can maintain his habit for just US$1 a day.

It is no wonder that the eradication of drug abuse is such an uphill task.

So health workers prefer to put drug addicts under methadone replacement therapy.

The aim for the time being is not to have them quit the drug, but to prevent them from contracting HIV by injection.

Having to deal with some of the worst drug abuse problems in the country also prompted Yunnan to deploy China's first mobile methadone clinic.

Says Duan Yijuan, Deputy Director, Yunnan Ruili Communicable Disease Centre, "Methadone is a state-controlled narcotic which has to be prescribed under supervision. All the (methadone) clinics are situated in the city, many drug addicts in the countryside couldn't get methadone because they stay too far from the city.

"So we came up with the idea of a mobile clinic, so more people will get methadone treatment. They can easily go back to doing their farm chores after this."

About 90% of the heroin brought into China comes from the "Golden Triangle" area, which borders Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

To nip this source in the bud, China decided to reduce poppy cultivation in this region, by helping farmers switch to commercial crops like lemons, rice and sugarcane.

A report by United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) shows that poppy cultivation in the Golden Triangle fell to 24,160 hectares last year - down 85% since 1998. CNA

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