Harm reduction programmes during the COVID-19 crisis in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Online discussions organised by the Steering Committee of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) were held between 14 and 23 April 2020, with 51 members of the Association in seven sub-regional groups concerning the state of harm reduction programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic in 22 countries of the Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) region. The information and experiences shared among by members are summarised in this report.
In most countries of the CEECA region, opioid substitution therapy (OST) and sterile needle/syringe programmes (NSP) – key components of an evidence-based and comprehensive harm reduction (HR) programme – continue to operate under COVID-19 quarantine measures. Such work requires flexibility, readiness for mutual partnerships and strong advocacy by community and harm reduction activists. Unfortunately, the practice of amnesty of prisoners for drug-related crimes because of COVID-19 quarantine requirements has not been implemented in the region.