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Harm reduction amongst drug users

A study carried out by Doctors of the World in Dar es-Salaam revealed an alarming prevalence of HIV amongst drug users whilst the epidemic begins to decline in the general population. Over 67% of female intravenous drug users are HIV positive. Whilst access to treatment is limited for these highly stigmatised people, MdM is launching the first syringe exchange programme in Africa.

» Dar es-Salaam, Temeke municipality


MdM teams have been working throughout the year to promote the concept of harm reduction to policy makers and national partners. Open days allowed them to raise awareness in the community and to engage the support of many volunteers. A drop-in centre serves as a place for listening and offers people who use drugs information on prevention, screening for infectious diseases, new syringes and basic first aid. Referral to healthcare facilities is organised for those whose state of health warrants it. Once a week there is a session, specially aimed at women drug users, who are at high risk of HIV transmission. MdM goes out to at-risk groups with a mobile unit, to carry out harm reduction activities through prevention, information on the work of the centre and the distribution of sterile needles. The programme has also enabled those people who are stigmatised and often brutalised to regain an identity by giving them the opportunity to participate in audiovisual training activities. Over and above prevention, the aim is to give them a voice and to rebuild their self-esteem.


Over 600 drug users have been able to obtain sterile kits on a regular basis, to access screening, healthcare and treatment for HIV. More than 30 users each month have benefited from referral to healthcare facilities. Over 17,000 needles have been distributed.


MdM hopes to strengthen the capacity of national and regional stakeholders in the area of harm reduction and to share good practice through a national resource and training centre.

Dimsas Mwendapole, who took part in the audiovisual training

"Now, I am somebody. Since I took part in this video project, people in my district respect me and I hope that the rest of the world will do the same when they see my films, my testimonies and my stories."

August 2012


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