The Arusha Declaration: East African Parliamentarians pushing for Harm Reduction services
“We call for the scale-up, strengthening and funding of harm reduction services for people who use drugs across Eastern Africa, as well as the creation of enabling policy environments under which these evidence-based services can operate and achieve their potential impacts.”
MPs from Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, and Burundi gathered to discuss policies with regards to Harm Reduction services aimed at delivering health and social services to people who use drugs, as well as creating an enabling environment for these services to be delivered. Officials from Seychelles and Ethiopia were also present.
Available HIV prevalence data shows that there is an immense disease burden among people who inject drugs (PWID). Nationwide prevalence of HIV in PWID ranges from 5.8% in Seychelles to 16% in Zanzibar, to 18.3% in Kenya and as high as 44.3% in Mauritius. HIV prevalence among PWID is also uneven within countries and can be very high in some areas.
Nathalie Rose, representing IDPC
According to Hon. Agostinho Neto, MP from Kenya, “This meeting offered the means to discuss and have a joint voice regarding Harm Reduction for people who use drugs. It also created a network of policy makers opened to the creation of Harm Reduction related legislation”.
According to Neto, discussions about Harm Reduction have been going on for a while with partners talking to each other. However, this meeting offered the means for technical partners to talk with policy makers, discussing what is possible and not possible in different countries.
“The good thing about getting advocates the manner that we did during the meeting, is ensuring that the advocates, i.e. the policy makers themselves, believe in the message. We have seen the level of buy-in for the advocates. We now have synergies between the partners and the policy makers”.