At the current session of the National Assembly Standing Committee, some delegates argued that a pilot project to manage addicts and provide them with vocational training and jobs is a waste of money.
Rehabilitated addicts work at Nhi Xuan Retoxication Center of The Ho Chi Minh City Youth Volunteer Force.
If the argument is considered from the perspective of money, it is not persuasive.
According to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, VND1.2 trillion (US$74.2 million) was spent on the project during the last five years. Of this amount, VND460 billion (US$28.5 million) was used to build infrastructure and the remainder was spent on addict management, rehabilitation, vocational training, health care and integration into the community. Over 30,000 addicts have been helped by the project. If this sum of money is compared to the number of addicts, the city has spent VND423,000 (US$26) for each addict per month.
Meanwhile, surveys suggest that if the addicts are left to themselves, each one would cost VND50,000 a day or VND3 million a month. Thus 30,000 addicts would cost VND3 trillion over a five years period.
Obviously, VND1.2 trillion (US$74.2 million) is less than VND3 trillion (US$186 million). Some experts argue that VND3 trillion is the amount paid by families whose relatives are addicts while VND1.2 trillion is the city budget. However, the city’s budget represents the tax money of the citizens.
The project is a social investment. The financial aspect is not the only one to be considered.
During the five years the project has been operation, the number of addicts who take part has increased from 7,000 in 2003, to 9,000 in 2004, 15,000 in 2005, 23,000 in 2006 and over 30,000 in 2007.
What would happen if 30,000 addicts were left to themselves and not rehabilitated?
According to a foreign social organization’s research, one addict may lure as many as three non-addicts into addiction within a one or two year period. A higher demand for drugs would have many ill effects: drug trafficking, crime, and an unstable society.
In the last five ears, the number of crimes committed by addicts has dropped from 16,000 in 1999 to 9,000 in 2006, 2007. The percentage of addicts who are infected with HIV has fallen from 82 percent in 2001 to 42 percent in 2006.
AIDS is the disease of the century. Most AIDS patients are drug users. Prolonging their lives strains the resources of the society and of their families and requires a great deal of much money. So preventing HIV in young people is the most encouraged result of the project.
If these results are considered, the sum of money spent on the project can not be called wasteful.
We applaud the war against waste. However, the war against drugs is a war for the lives of young people who represent a human resource. In this fight, even a small victory is worthwhile and cannot be exchanged with money.
The public is raising its voice and hoping that the National Assembly will continue the addict management and rehabilitation project.