Watch the video of Odyseus C.A., member of the Drugreporter video network, about the harm reduction situation in Slovakia with a brief outlook to the Czech Republic.
Harm reduction activities across the world have been working for several decades. Their effectiveness has long been verified, and more and more countries are beginning to include them in their drug policy. The situation in Slovakia, however, is going in the opposite direction. From the original 6 organisations which provided outreach needle exchange programmes, just 3 of them remain and they are also struggling for survival each year. Every year, they face financial instability, and money must be secured from many sources, but no single source is ever truly secure.
The last 3 harm reduction organisations are located in the Western Slovakia. In Central and Eastern Slovakia outreach needle exchange programmes do not exist, the result of which is a complete of lack information about the people who use drugs in this area and who do not attend any medical services. What happened to them after the closure of harm reduction programmes in Central and Eastern Slovakia?
The situation in the Czech Republic is quite different. The need for harm reduction services is based on the number of inhabitants and outreach needle exchange programmes are distributed throughout the whole territory of the Czech Republic. Although the situation is completely different in both countries, the view on harm reduction services is the same between professionals and clients from both countries. Harm reduction services are a necessary and effective tool in drug policy and it is time for Slovakia to start taking it seriously.
Dominika Jasekova, director of Odyseus, C.A.