February 14, 2024

SSLN | Link & Learn on Initiating and Scaling Up Harm Reduction for People Who Inject Drugs (PWID).

Key populations
Introduction

Harm reduction, a cornerstone strategy in HIV prevention, encompasses policies, programs, and practices aimed at reducing the negative impacts related to druguse and other high-risk activities. It is rooted in principles of justice, human rights, and the dual benefits of public health and community safety.Despite sociocultural obstacles, punitive policies, and limited resources, harm reduction strategies—including needle and syringe programs (NSPs), opioid substitution therapy (OST), anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and the provision of health education and legal services—have been implemented across the continent. These efforts have led to a reduction in new HIV infections and improved quality of life for KPs. The harm reduction approach in Africa, therefore, represents a dynamic and evolving commitment to promoting the health and rights of KPs in a broader mission to curb the HIV epidemic across the continent.

Objectives
  • Understand the scope of Kenya's HIV Epidemic and examine the nation's strategies for implementing harm reduction.
  • Discover the on-ground experiences of implementing partners like SAPTA and Ngara MAT Clinic in their harm reduction initiatives.
  • Understand the role of community networks in harm reduction efforts.
Proceedings

The session was chaired by Reuben Musundi from the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council (NSDCC), setting the tone for the ensuing discussions. Timothy Kilonzo then presented an overview of Kenya's HIV epidemic and its approach to implementing harm reduction, providing critical context.

The conversation deepened with a screening of the thought-provoking film, "Where Did We Start from? – Unchaining the Chained,” highlighting the realities of the issue. Implementing partners' experiences were subsequently shared by Esther Gitau from Support for Addictions Prevention and Treatment in Africa- (SAPTA) and Dr. Shiela Ayuya from Ngara MAT Clinic, contributing practical perspectives on harm reduction implementation.

Susan Njuguna offered her testimony, illustrating the impact of needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP) on People Who Inject Drugs (PWID). The significant role of community networks in supporting these initiatives was brought to light by John Kimani from the Kenya Network of People Who Use Drugs (KeNPUD).

The session then moved on to an interactive Q&A panel discussion, facilitated by Timothy Kilonzo, fostering a richer understanding, and facilitating a lively exchange of ideas. The session concluded with key takeaways Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia each contributing unique insights to the broader discourse on harm reduction.

Resources

The recording and presentation from this session can be accessed below.

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