As the first year of the Community Action on Harm Reduction project ends, the Alliance shares some of its key achievements.
Pioneering harm reduction in Africa
At the initial conception meetings of the CAHR project, Kenya was expected to be a slow starter for its harm reduction activities. However, the project has rolled out very quickly with KANCO and its implementing partners already delivering services to clients in 2011.
Strong technical support was provided by Alliance Ukraine and the International Secretariat which has enabled KANCO to adopt a leading role in harm reduction within Kenya and regionally. KANCO has been chosen to coordinate a regional harm reduction networking mechanism and to ensure more sustainable funding for Kenyan harm reduction work.
Expansion of work in Indonesia
Having focused much of its harm reduction work on West Java over the last decade, through the support of CAHR Rumah Cemara has expanded its work to five other Indonesian islands, including Sumatera, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and Lombok. It will establish new harm reduction projects on two islands and provide technical support to all five islands.
Improved access to HIV testing in China
Currently in China, regular HIV testing is not anonymous, and the laboratory tests are performed by the local Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Individuals have to wait several days for their results, which is often de-motivating.
Alliance China, through the CAHR project, is piloting rapid anonymous HIV testing in needle exchange points, and community centres. Using peer outreach, they hope to substantially improve access to HIV testing among people who use drugs. The pilot programme started in mid-November 2011 and has been very well received by the community of people who use drugs and CDC staff.
Malaysia HIV prevention projects expand
A series of workshops on behaviour change communication were conducted in Malaysia last year for outreach workers who work with the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) on harm reduction programmes (including those working for the Ministry of Health and at services funded by the Global Fund).
The training is designed to improve the effectiveness of HIV prevention and harm reduction communication, and the revised protocol will be rolled out across all harm reduction programmes being implemented by MAC.
In addition, a new SyrEx client tracking database has been commissioned to serve all HIV prevention projects for people who use drugs in Malaysia to improve data quality and planning.
A true Alliance exchange in action
Overall, the first year of the CAHR project has started a very positive exchange between practitioners in harm reduction (global knowledge sharing is a key objective of the project).
For example, Alliance Ukraine and the Malaysian AIDS Council hosted meetings of all of the project countries – including site visits and exchanges of expertise; one of the CAHR policy partners, the International Drug Policy Consortium visited Malaysia, Indonesia and Kenya to share international and local policy expertise; and researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine working in the field of international drug use are collaborating with CAHR partners in Kenya to share their expertise and help inform programmatic developments.