Bringing Mauritius harm reduction expertise to Kenya

Bringing Mauritius harm reduction expertise to Kenya

In early April Community Action on Harm Reduction (CAHR) project provided the opportunity for outreach workers from 6 different organizations in Kenya to undergo training on harm reduction and related fields.

The training was conducted by CAHR partners Prevention Information et Lutte contre le Sida (PILS) and Collectif Urgence Toxida (CUT) - two non-governmental organizations working in the areas of HIV/AIDS and harm reduction respectively in Mauritius. For the HIV epidemic in Mauritius which was mainly driven by people who inject drugs, harm reduction strategies have been developed since 2006 as a result of a strong advocacy by civil society, and have contributed significantly to the reduction of HIV incidence rate among people who inject drugs.

During April 2-6, 21 outreach workers from different Kenyan organizations, namely Noset, Omari Project, Mewa, Teenwatch, ReachOut and Sapta participated in the event. The goal of the training was to give the participants the possibility to familiarize themselves with principles of harm reduction, practical aspects of the needle and syringe programme implementation, as well as principles of advocacy and behaviour change communication. The resource persons thoroughly addressed aspects such as outreach work, burn out prevention, stigma and discrimination of people who use drugs, networking and power mapping among others.

Through KANCO, Kenya is launching the needle and syringe programme, involving different organizations that were present at the training course. Using powerpoint presentations, role plays, projection of short movies (you can watch one here) and group discussions, the training offered inputs for a challenging project awaiting them. Harm reduction programmes are a relatively new concept in Kenya, and participants were keen to receive practical information about them: “At least, we can combat the spread of HIV using the needle and syringe programme, there’s light at the end”.

The collaboration between Mauritius and Kenya through the CAHR project already gave the opportunity for a Kenyan delegation to come to Mauritius in September 2011 for CUT’s 2nd Conference on harm reduction in Mauritius, and to visit some needle exchange programmes there.

A follow up technical support will be offered to KANCO on implementation of the needle and syringe programme in Kenya through communications with the Mauritian partners.