Presenting author: Geoff Ward
Presenting author biography:
Geoff Ward, CAHMA peer worker, has been involved in harm reduction and the struggle to end prohibition for over 20 years. He has a degree in political science from Monash University. Geoff played a role consolidating INPUD and was on the Board for over 5 years. He has presented the CAHMA radio show "News from the Drug War Front" for over 10 years. He has been focussed on opioid pharmacotherapy issues and the importance of consumers being represented on bodies that set the rules and costs. He still hopes to live to see the end of the war on people who use drugs.
Integrated services: Making harm reduction work for everyone
Sam Shirley-Beavan, Temitope Salami, Shenae Jonas, Colleen Daniels, Geoff Ward
Integrated harm reduction (HR) services are those that provide one or more ‘traditional’ HR services (such as opioid agonist therapy or a needle and syringe programme) alongside other health and social services. This project profiled a range of integrated HR services to explore whether integration enabled them to better meet the needs of their clients.
Researchers reviewed grey and academic literature on integration of HR and HIV services, with special attention to services for women and Indigenous people who use drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers then carried out ten in depth interviews with key informants from ten integrated harm reduction services in seven countries. Data was analysed to create ten case studies exploring models of integration; community participation and leadership; and responses to COVID-19.
Each case study organisation provided a range of services tailored to the needs of a specific sub-population of people who use drugs (including Indigenous people, women, people experiencing homelessness, men engaging in chemsex, people who use smokeable cocaine). In order to understand the needs of each population, each organisation emphasised the inclusion of people who use drugs in the design and implementation of services. In all cases, integration was understood not only as internal to the organisations, but as being embedded in a network of health, legal and social services able to meet the wide range of needs of the target population.
Integrated services are an essential part of the HR response to drug use. When tailored to the needs of the people they serve, they are uniquely capable of ensuring access for marginalised groups whose needs may be neglected in non-specialised HR services. Community leadership can be transformational, both in assessing what services are required and in implementing services that are acceptable, accessible and of high quality.