'Building capacity, redressing neglect' on harm reduction

Published: April 13, 2011

The 22nd International Harm Reduction Conference took place in Beirut Lebanon during April 3-7, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where it faces diverse and rapidly changing patterns of drug, tobacco and alcohol use. Despite to the fact that harm reduction has been adopted in policy and practice in more countries than ever before, however significant gaps remain in the response, also there are lack of coverage on harm reduction programmes and the capacity of civil society to respond to harm reduction issues, remain low in much of the world, therefore, ‘Building capacity, redressing neglect’ has become the theme of this annual international conference.

The Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN) in collaboration with the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) has organized a Asia-regional Harm Reduction meeting on 6 April 2011 to discuss on how civil society could collaborate and promote harm reduction, and collectively strive to achieve more sensible, humane and effective drug policies in the region. "It was a real opportunity for all of us who are working on harm reduction to meet and discuss and come up with some plan to enhance what we are doing" said Ronny Waikhom, Coordinator, AHRN.

Civil society engagement has been variable in harm reduction initiatives in the region. "It depends on who they are, where they are, who is supporting them, so we have a range of stakeholder organizations in this region and most of these organizations are driven by the contextual factor such as the available funding that they have, the issues around. So it depends on those area if they share the right donor, if they share the right issue, if they have the same agenda, then they better collaborate genuinely" said Ronny Waikhom.

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