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LCQ17: Methadone treatment programme

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Han-pan and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (December 10):


     The two-storey building located at 213 Sha Tsui Road, Tsuen Wan, currently houses the Lady Trench General Out-patient Clinic under the Hospital Authority and the Lady Trench Methadone Clinic under the Department of Health. Some residents in the local community have indicated their hope that the building, which is in a very dilapidated state, can be demolished for redevelopment by the authorities as soon as possible in order to fully utilise the site. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the attendance of the aforesaid methadone clinic in each of the past five years, and whether such figures show a downward trend; if they do, whether the authorities will consider closing down or relocating the clinic; if they will, of the details; if they will not, the reasons for that;

(2) whether it knows the attendance of the aforesaid general out-patient clinic in each of the past five years;

(3) as the pedestrian flow at Sha Tsui Road on normal days is heavy, but the pavement beside the aforesaid building is very narrow, whether the authorities have considered removing the perimeter fence of the building to make room for widening the pavement there; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(4) whether the authorities have considered demolishing the aforesaid building for redevelopment in order to fully utilise the site; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Chan Han-pan is as follows:

(1) It is the Administration's policy to adopt a multi-modality approach to provide drug treatment and rehabilitation services to cater for the divergent needs of drug abusers of varying backgrounds. The voluntary out-patient methadone treatment programme (MTP) administered by the Department of Health (DH) is one of them.

     MTP is a treatment programme for opioid abusers, aiming to provide them with a legal, affordable, safe and effective way to break their addiction to opioid, and lead a normal life.

     The medical sector generally considers that opioid dependence is a chronic relapsing illness, in which patients may follow a relapsing and remitting course after rehabilitation. Methadone can be used to control the withdrawal symptoms induced by opioid, hence removing their need in obtaining heroin through illegal means, thereby reducing the adverse impact on public order. At present, Methadone maintenance treatment is found to be the most effective way of treatment.

     Since the implementation of MTP in 1972, the Administration has conducted a number of reviews of the programme. In 2012, DH again engaged international consultants to conduct a review and the conclusion reaffirmed the effectiveness of MTP and the need for continuing to provide maintenance treatment as the main services.

     DH currently operates 20 methadone clinics in Hong Kong. The Lady Trench Methadone Clinic in Tsuen Wan is the only methadone clinic for Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing districts. It recorded more than 230 000 attendances in 2013 which was about 9% lower than the total attendance of almost 260 000 in 2009. Notwithstanding this, the average daily attendance at this clinic still exceeds 630 to date. In addition, this clinic ranked the third in terms of attendances among the methadone clinics under DH in 2013, indicating the strong demand for methadone services of the local community.

(2) According to the Hospital Authority (HA), the number of attendances at the Lady Trench General Out-patient Clinic (GOPC) rose progressively from 140 000 in 2009-10 to over 150 000 in 2013-14.

(3) For operational, safety and security considerations, DH has no plan to remove the fence of the Lady Trench Polyclinic facing the bus stop.

     Given bus stops and minibus stops are located on the pavement outside the Lady Trench Polyclinic on Sha Tsui Road, the pedestrian flow is heavier during peak hours. The Transport Department (TD) has been keeping in view the utilisation of the pavement there and considers the situation acceptable. TD will continue to monitor the utilisation of pavements in Tsuen Wan district.

(4) Subject to availability of suitable sites, DH will gradually redevelop/re-provision aged clinic facilities in different districts which were developed a long time ago as well as to improve the clinic environment and equipment. To bring greater convenience to clinic users, the Architectural Services Department has completed barrier-free access improvement works at the Lady Trench Polyclinic.

     HA has always endeavoured to enhance its GOPC services, including carrying out renovation works and upgrading clinic facilities. The Kowloon West Cluster has planned to conduct interior improvement works for the Lady Trench GOPC in 2015-16, which will increase the number of consultation rooms, streamline patient flow and improve the clinic environment, thereby increasing the service capacity.

Ends/Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:59


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