ZCLDN establishes community harm reduction centres in Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) in partnership with the Harare City Council is at an advanced stage of setting up Community Harm Reduction Centres in Harare.
The goal for establishing the centers is for information dissemination on drug policy reform, harm reduction and prevention programmes in targeted communities with the aim of reducing harms associated with drug use especially among young people.
The ZCLDN has since targeted residential areas in Mbare, Mufakose and Dzivaresekwa as pilot centres with the aim of spreading the project to all suburbs in Harare. The centres will be manned by trained counsellors who will provide people who use drugs with relevant information on health and safety.
The centres will also have relevant reading material on drug use. The ZCLDN will use the Community Harm Reduction Centres as strategic measures to curb the harms associated with drug use especially among young people in Zimbabwe and as a measure to help people who use drugs to come out of their closets in their communities. According to research, due to stigma and discrimination, people who use drugs often refrain from seeking medical or psychological help, with alarming consequences that are particularly negative for young people. These figures are further supported by the evidence that there is a lot of illegal drugs on the streets of Harare and in most cities and towns. In Zimbabwe, illegal drug use is criminalised.
However, with the prevalence of HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis C in our communities, the Community Harm Reduction Centres will be a game changer. The proposed project uses a tag line which recognises the use of drugs as a public health issue, which affects every person and communities rather than a criminal issue. The centres align themselves with the globally-accepted; “Support Don’t Punish Campaign”. which calls for governments to focus on the wellbeing of communities and people who use drugs, ensuring access to medical and counselling services, and not persecuting them.