The importance of community involvement in the design and development of health policies and programming has been formalised as a key principle within health policy agendas since the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration. A human rights and community empowerment approach has also been promoted as a key enabler for a successful response to the HIV epidemic. Such principles are also the foundation for harm reduction, where the involvement of people who use drugs is described as central to ensuring accessible, effective and responsive harm reduction services.
Evidence for action?
Despite the often-stated benefits of community involvement for harm reduction, clear and comprehensive evidence for how different forms of community involvement have impact is limited.
Bridging the gaps: a global partnership for research
The Bridging the Gaps II (BTGII) programme supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs aims to support action on community involvement. This unique programme addresses the common challenges faced by sex workers, people who use drugs and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in terms of human rights violations and accessing much needed HIV and health services. BTGII seeks to address twin priorities: 1) to support the development of existing community involvement processes in contexts where the health and rights of people who use drugs are threatened, and 2) foster a global evidence base for community involvement in contexts of harm reduction.