By Makuwa Felicia
The City of Tshwane Health Department recently hosted a delegation from Malawi, with a primary focus on benchmarking the city’s response to drug and substance abuse, particularly emphasizing harm reduction. The delegation’s primary interactions revolved around engaging with both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.
The program’s inception was driven by concerning trends revealing a high prevalence of HIV infection among individuals who inject drugs. This learning visit on harm reduction services marked a pioneering initiative for Malawi.
“It is crucial to emphasize that the overarching goal of our drug and substance response program is to prevent and mitigate drug and substance abuse, along with its associated impacts. I take great pride in the international recognition our city’s collaborative drug and substance response program has garnered,” stated MMC for Health, Cllr Rina Marx.
Harm reduction strategies primarily concentrate on minimizing harm to individuals using substances. These strategies encompass various approaches such as opioid substitution therapy (OST), the establishment of drop-in centers, and the implementation of a needle and syringe program (NSP). These measures are instrumental in reducing the risks of HIV and hepatitis transmission.