Involving Family Physicians in Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs in Kosovo
Islam Miftari. Main Family Medicine Center, Kosovo
Background: Kosovo, the youngest European country, faces many challenges as it rebuilds its health system. The drug abuse situation is worse for adolescents and young adults who are increasing use of the same drugs used by neighboring countries. However, in Kosovo, users are more highly stigmatized and not given proper medical care. In public health clinics, the only service provided to users is a short detoxification program. But new hope for them comes from a nongovernmental organization called “Labyrinth,” which is devoted to addressing drug issues. It is supported by the Global Fund for Fighting HIV/AIDS. Presently, it is starting harm reduction efforts and a methadone maintenance program.
Methods: An important part of preparation for starting a methadone program is involving family physicians in the treatment teams. To do this, Labyrinth organized five training efforts using local and international experts. The organization also prepared various training materials on drug use.
Results: Promoting team work by involving family physicians in treatment programs at three Labyrinth treatment centers located in the cities with the greatest number of drug abusers in Kosovo (Prishtina, Prizren, and Gjilan) has provided a helpful outlook for treating drug abusers across the country.
Conclusions: Involving family physicians of Kosovo in drug abuse treatment, harm reduction efforts, and a methadone maintenance treatment program is contributing significantly to better health services and health improvements for drug users.