Kyrgyzstan: Staying Together To Survive

November 21, 2016

"This is Kyrgyzstan, a country with very complicated drug policy and a very active community of people who use drugs." Watch this video produced by Drug User News at Drugreporter, about harm reduction and activism in Kyrgyzstan.

Looking at the snow-capped peaks of the Tien-Shan mountains, China is right behind them, and Tajikistan is very close. This is Kyrgyzstan, a country with very complicated drug policy and a very active community of people who use drugs.

This time, we abandoned our usual routine, and didn't talk about the local drug scene, even though it was well worth talking about, when one considers the drug trafficking route which runs through this country from Afghanistan to the countries of our region and beyond, to Europe.

But in our opinion, this has a positive side for drug users in this country: there are none of the cheap analogues of amphetamine (so-called "salts"), which have flooded almost all the other countries in our region, and which carry greater risks than heroin.

There are many people around the world seeking to change drug policies for the better: they work in harm reduction programs, and create various initiatives and organisations in order to protect the rights of drug users, sometimes sacrificing their own freedom for the cause.

We had come here, to Kyrgyzstan, to film these people. Kyrgyzstan - one of the first countries in the region to develop effective harm reduction programs. Activism here is very advanced, and we were lucky enough to meet the people who were in at the start.

We talked about the social support available for women who use drugs, about support for vulnerable groups with their housing needs, and about substitution therapy programs. We did a lot of interviews with clients of the projects, and with doctors and specialists who have worked for a long time in the harm reduction sphere. We discussed the prospects of the country's government financing prevention programs, now that the Global Fund has withdrawn support – and you can see all of this in our new video, “Kyrgyzstan: Staying together to survive”.

(Turn on English subtitles by clicking on the CC button at the right bottom of the video.)

DU News