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Harm reduction programme for drug users

The health and security situation in the country worsened considerably in 2008, with the intensification of fighting between insurgents and Afghan and international forces. In this situation, access to healthcare for the most vulnerable groups remains very difficult. This is particularly the case for drug users, of whom there are an estimated 1 million, and amongst whom MdM is running a harm reduction programme.

» Kaboul


Since 2006, MdM has been leading an ambitious programme of harm reduction in Afghanistan. It focuses on two aspects: on the one hand, support for drug users, and on the other hand, the promotion of harm reduction at a national level. The former includes prevention and access to primary healthcare and treatment, as well as psychological and social support. The latter focuses on training local stakeholders, who are engaged with the struggle against HIV/Aids.

Over 1,000 drug users have had regular medical care in a drop-in centre. The country’s first antiretrovirals were prescribed in May 2009 and the first self-help group of people living with HIV/Aids, was set up shortly after. The first methadone substitution treatment was delivered in 2010, in partnership with the health authorities, and the first Afghan drug users self-help group was established.

The creation of the Organisation for Harm Reduction in Afghanistan (OHRA), last summer, marks the beginning of MdM’s withdrawal from harm reduction activities in Afghanistan.


26,739 contacts with drug users in the field and in the reception centre, 68 patients on methadone, 176 people trained in harm reduction.


MdM is beginning a gradual withdrawal from the harm reduction programme, as prevention and primary healthcare activities are taken over by the national OHRA organisation. In order to guarantee the sustainability of harm reduction activities, in the long term, the programme will be entrusted to stakeholders in Afghan civil society.

August 2012


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