COVID-19 and the impact on harm reduction in Europe

Since the beginning of 2020, European countries have experienced an unprecedented public health threat with the emergence of COVID-19. In response to the pandemic European countries have implemented a variety of virus containment strategies along with various service closures and reductions. People who use drugs are particularly susceptible to the changes wrought by this pandemic. Border closures cause major disruptions to drug supply chains and vital harm reduction services face potential closures and shortages of sterile supplies.  PWUD can face additional risks of COVID-19 due to crowded living situations and unstable housing, sharing of drug equipment in addition to stigma and marginalization preventing health-seeking behaviors. In addition, PWUD in Europe often have underlying chronic medical conditions, such as Hepatitis C, placing them at further risk of severe respiratory illness should they fall ill with COVID-19.

Speakers will provide a 5 minute introduction statement and will be interviewed afterwards by a designated C-EHRN member. At the end of the interview phase, the floor is open for discussion with the audience.

Moderator: Eberhard Schatz, C-EHRN

  • WHO perspective: agreed but speaker tbc – Marinella Kloka, Praksis, Greece
  • EMCDDA perspective: Alexis Goosdeel, director – John Peter Kools, Trimbos Institute, NL
  • EuroNPUD perspective: Matt Southwell, director – Jose Queiroz, Apdes, Portugal
  • Policy maker perspective: Mariam Jashi, Georgian Member of Parliament,
    UNITE’s Chapter Chair from Eastern Europe & Central Asia) –  Ganna Dovbakh, EHRA
  • ‘Nobody left Outside’ perspective: Prof Jeffrey Lazarus, ISGlobal – Dr. Rafaela Rigoni, C EHRN
  • COVID-19 and treatment of viral hepatitis: Prof. Dr. Mojca Maticic, University of Ljubljana – Christos Anastasiou, EuroNPUD, Greece
  • Global perspective: Ricardo Bapista, Unite  – Peter Sarosi, Drugreporter, Hungary