Coverage of opioid substitution therapy

Export Indicator

Percentage of people who inject drugs receiving opioid substitution therapy
What it measures

A programme’s ability to deliver opioid substitution therapy among people who inject drugs as a method of directly reducing injecting frequency. The target coverage is 40%.


Opioid substitution therapy represents a commitment to treat opioid dependence and reduce the frequency of injecting, preferably to zero. It is the most effective, evidence-based public health tool for reducing use among the people who inject opioids. Opioid substitution therapy provides crucial support for treating other health conditions, including HIV, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis.


Number of people who inject drugs and are receiving opioid substitution therapy at a specified date


Number of opioid-dependent people who inject drugs in the country



Method of measurement

For the numerator: Programme records: for example, opioid substitution therapy registries.

For the denominator: Size estimations of opioid users or injectors.

Biobehavioral surveys can collect this information but are often biased by an inclusion criterion of being a current injector, whereas people receiving opioid substitution therapy should not be injecting anymore.

Measurement frequency


  • Gender (male, female and transgender).
  • Age (<25 and 25+ years).
  • Cities and other administrative areas of importance.
Additional information requested

If there are subnational data available, please provide the disaggregation by administrative area, city, or site, and the provider (government or community).

Strengths and weaknesses

The population size estimate used as the denominator should be appropriate for the numerator; not all opioid substitution therapy recipients have a history of injecting and not all people who inject drugs use or are dependent on opioids.

Further information

WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS. Technical guide for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2012 (

For a proposed complete set of globally agreed indicators for people who inject drugs, see: People who inject drugs [website]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2016 (

Related Indicators
KP.3 Coverage of OST, 2020, WHO Consolidated HIV strategic information guidelines: driving impact through programme monitoring and management (