On Thursday, 9 December 2010, a joint seminar between the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) and the International Drugs Policy Consortium (IDPC) was held at The Legend Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was run in conjunction with the ‘Lancet Series Symposium: HIV in People who use Drugs’ which took place on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 December 2010, organised by the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA), University of Malaya.

The aim of the seminar was to engage high level officials in considering alternative options to the current mandatory treatment and rehabilitation for managing drug using offenders. It was attended by representatives from the Malaysian Parliament, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK), the Prisons Department and the Social Welfare Department, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Judiciary, the Federal Government Administrative Centre and the Islamic Religious Council.

Keynote speakers included Mike Trace and Ann Fordham from IDPC, Professor Mahmood Nazar (Deputy Director General from AADK), Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman (Deputy Director of Disease Control, MOH), Datuk Mohammed Zaman Khan (President, MAC), Mr Jamil bin Aripin (Prosecution Division, Attorney General Chambers), Dr Alex Wodak (Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent’s Hospital, Australia), Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch (Director, OSI Global Drug Policy Programme), the Honourable Datuk Su Geok Yiam (Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge) and a video interview with drug ‘czar’ Joao Goulao (Chairman, Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, Portugal).

This seminar provided the opportunity to share experiences from different countries and encourage new thinking at a time where the Malaysian government has already successfully implemented harm reduction measures and is in the process of scaling these up.