Presenting author: Jamie Cartick
Presenting author biography:
A human rights defender whose career particularly focuses on advocacy against repressive drug policies and the improvement of the quality of life of people who use/inject drugs, alongside assisting the promoting harm reduction advocacy initiatives in line with the strategic vision of local NGOs in Mauritius.
An analysis of the quality of methadone dispensing in Mauritius
Being a pioneer in the African region regarding Harm Reduction services, Mauritius has undoubtedly made its impact on the advancement of drug-related health strategies. Yet, over the past few years, the program of Methadone Maintenance Therapy has revealed its shortcomings. Up to July 2021, the program registered 5986 people, whereby the methadone is distributed across 48 sites, namely 24 police stations, 4 prisons, 1 community hospital, 3 regional hospitals, 8 community health centers, 5 Medi-clinics, and 3 methadone daycare centers.
To analyze the quality of methadone dispensing in Mauritius, this research used a mixed-methods approach where participants (n=200) were selected on 20 selected sites. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews.
With half of the dispensation done in police stations, the research flagged the level of stigma and discrimination faced by beneficiaries as well as their inability to be free of movement; they are bound to attend their respective methadone sites every single day at a precise restricted time. Furthermore, this research showed how the lack of insurance for the quality of methadone due to the absence of sealed caps. Even if plastic bottles should remain airtight to ensure optimal quality of the medication, inadequately sealed bottles given produce a disequilibrium between the “supposed” and “received” dose for the baneficiaries. There is also a lack of understanding of the composition of the substance distributed in liquid form. Patients on the MST are not adequately educated to understand the long-term implications and side effects of the treatment, thus generating community beliefs that are often erroneous.
The findings of the research shed light on the need to advocate for home doses, the decentralization of the dispensing sites toward healthcare settings, and the fundamental need to review the quality and efficacy of Methadone Maintenance Therapy through patients' and their close ones’ education and empowerment.