National stakeholder dialogue: Towards a stigma reduction roadmap for people who use drugs in Ghana


National stakeholder dialogue: Towards a stigma reduction roadmap for people who use drugs in Ghana

29 May 2024

The Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026 includes a series of bold goals for the international community to achieve, among which is the target that less than 10% of people living with HIV and key populations (such as people who use drugs) will experience stigma and discrimination by 2025. The central importance of exposing, tackling and reducing stigma has long been recognised at the international, regional and national levels, as stigma and discrimination are proven to be significant barriers to people accessing the health and social support and services that can save lives.

In order to make progress towards these targets, radical changes are needed to how people who use drugs – a key population for the HIV response – are treated and protected. Ghana has already made important strides in this direction, with the passing of the Narcotics Control Commission Act (Act 1019) in 2020 which reduced penalties for drug use offences while promoting alternatives to incarceration and harm reduction responses. Yet, accelerated efforts are needed in the country to create a conducive environment in which people who use drugs feel safe, supported and free from stigma.

To this end, UNAIDS Ghana and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) hosted a National Stakeholder Dialogue in April 2024 in collaboration with key national partners such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Ghana AIDS Commission, and the Narcotics Control Commission (NACOC). The Dialogue had two main objectives: to bring together the key actors in Ghana to discuss the issues of stigma and discrimination; and to inform the development of a national stigma reduction roadmap for people who use drugs. It was attended by more than 55 participants representing government, academia, civil society, service providers, youth and the affected community.