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11 newborn babies needed opioid replacement treatment

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11 newborn babies needed opioid replacement treatmentThe Maltese National Focal Point on Drugs and Drug Addiction, within the Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family, is the national agency responsible for compiling data and producing the annual National Report on the drugs situation in Malta. This report is produced under the guidance of the National Commission on the Abuse of Drugs, Alcohol and other Dependencies. It is also co-financed by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The National Report on the Drugs Situation 2008-2010, which was presented on Friday 9th December 2011, incorporates within it data related to the supply of drugs, treatment available to drug users, health related issues like drug related infectious diseases, prison systems, drug use in the general population and youth populations, prevention services and prevalence of problem drug use.

In 2010, 1936 individuals attended one or more of the available drug agencies and services in Malta. Among all those treated, 80% of all clients were in treatment related to heroin use, while 11% had cocaine related problems. Another 6% accessed treatment because of their cannabis use. Injecting drug users were reported at 35% of the service using population, a decrease of 11% compared to 46% reported in 2009. In Europe, 41% of opioid users report injecting as their route of administration.

Of the total number of individuals who attended drug related services, 313 were reported to have used services for the first time ever in their lives. Among this client group, 56% reported heroin to be their primary drug of use, while 24% and 14% respectively, reported being in treatment because of their cocaine and cannabis use. Among this client group, 12% reported to be current drug injectors, which also sees a great decrease over the previous year which reported 29% of clients injecting.

Drug related deaths in Malta are low compared to other European Countries. In 2010, 5 deaths were reported which were related to drug overdose. In the last 14 years Malta has reported an average of 7 drug overdose related deaths every year.

A total of 224 non-fatal drug overdoses were reported in 2010, with 26% of these cases being related to illicit drugs.

During 2010, 15 women attending the Substance Misuse Outpatient Unit were pregnant. Of these clients, 2 suffered a miscarriage, while 13 delivered healthy babies. A total of 11 newborn babies needed opioid replacement treatment after birth.

The incidence of HIV infection among the drug using population in Malta remains low, with no new infections being reported in 2010. During the same year, 2 individuals were reported to be infected with Hepatitis B whilst 54 clients tested positive for Hepatitis C. It is important to report however that among the first treated clients, no new cases of Hep C infection were reported.

During 2010, a total of 506 arrests related to drugs were made. A total 0f 445 arraignments were made, of which 285 were for possession of drugs while the remaining 160 were for trafficking offences.

Of all those charged for drug related offences, 84% were male. The great majority of individuals charged (72%) were Maltese. The majority (85%) were between the age of 15 and 30.

A total of 293 drug seizures were made in 2010, an increase of 22% over 2009.

Out of the 731 individuals admitted to Corradino Correctional Facility, 30% tested positive for drugs on admission. A total of 37% of those admitted were sentenced for drug related offences. A total of 102 inmates received methadone treatment while in prison.

During the 2010, 53% of first treated clients reported having children, with the majority (52%) reporting being parents to one child and 32% parents to two children. A total of 81% of these parents were male. Of these first treated drug using parents, 67% reported making use of heroin, while 21% reported the use of cocaine, and 4% made use of cannabis.

Last year, a total number of 36 care orders were issued, with 24 of these children having drug using parents. 63 children of drug using parents were fostered, out of a total of 212 foster placements. At the SMOPU, 15 pregnant women made use of the service, with 13 giving birth to healthy babies and another 2 miscarriages. 11 infants were born with withdrawal symptoms.

The production of this report, which is available in full for download here, was made possible with the input and collaboration between interested parties working within the various sectors of the drugs scene in Malta.

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