Harm reduction, legislation and intersectorality: the strategy of the Brazilian programme
D. Serafim, F. Nogueira
Brazil Ministry of Health, STD/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Department, Brasilia, Brazil
Issues: The high level of alcohol consumption, increasing consumption of crack, and various other contexts of vulnerability to HIV, and Hepatitis A and B infection in Brazil demand a specific intersectoral policy directed at drug users and involving the health and human rights sectors, the legal system and the legislative branch.
Description: To define articulated government strategies, the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Parliament organised a seminar on Drugs, Harm Reduction, Legislation and Intersectorality with the aim of discussing the context of drug use in Brazil, the respective legal framework and a harm reduction policy; and to indicate intersectorally articulated intervention strategies that could foster social inclusion of drug users. The agenda, speakers and the participants to be invited to the seminar were jointly defined and the costs were shared.
Lessons learned: The political support of members of parliament that understand the health needs of this segment is important to provide solid backing for interventions among drug users. The penalties the law applies to such people is out of context and is one of the factors exacerbating their vulnerability and fostering violation of their human rights. Full awareness of the circumstances among members of parliament is essential to achieving changes in the legislation. The debate among the various actors contributed towards reducing prejudice directed at people that consume alcohol and other drugs and creating an understanding that responsibility for facing up to complex issues like this needs to be shared. A political even that effectively involves the Parliament mobilizes the Brazilian media and heightens the visibility of the situation.
Next steps: Publicising the report on the event and discussing its recommendations in face to face meetings in the municipal sphere to assist in the elaboration of local Plans; and holding Symposium II, 2010.
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