International Harm Reduction Day

International Harm Reduction Day is marked on the 7th of May each year to advance – and advocate for – a harm reduction approach to drug use. For TB HIV Care CEO, Prof. Harry Hausler, harm reduction recognises that addiction often comes from a place of trauma and suffering. In response, arm reduction offers an alternative, non-punitive, non-judgemental, health and human rights approach to addiction.

In eThekwini, our team marked International Harm Reduction Day with a march. Various stakeholders, including Metro Police, SAPS, Aurum, MAAT Institute, Bellhaven Centre, and TB HIV Care PWID and sex worker staff, participated in the event. The march aimed to enhance awareness amongst the community and government about harm reduction, advocate for the expansion of public health services for individuals who use drugs, and address the stigma and discrimination they confront daily.

After the march, the programme featured presentations from distinguished advocates and medical professionals. A THC OST Doctor elaborated on the methadone programme, whilst a representative from Aurum discussed their tuberculosis services and also conducted TB chest X-rays. Andile Ngcungama, a THC Advocacy Officer, delivered a talk on human rights. The day concluded with powerful testimonies from clients whose lives have been transformed by the methadone programme.

In Nelson Mandela Bay our PWID team observed International Harm Reduction Day with a special event. The formal session refreshed attendees on harm reduction principles and included a ceremony to remember those who have passed away due to drug-related illnesses.

The celebration also included a vibrant session where attendees donned t-shirts in various colours, each representing different harm reduction themes. These colours were symbolic and facilitated engaging group competitions, adding an enjoyable and interactive element to the day’s proceedings.

These events reflect the community’s ongoing commitment to addressing and supporting the needs of people who use drugs, ensuring they receive respect, support, and access to necessary health services.