Presenting author: Tatyana Sleiman
Presenting author biography:
Tatyana graduated with a Masters in Clinical Psychology in 2006. Since then, she held key positions pertaining to the development of strategies and programs with a focus on Harm Reduction and emergency response. She currently holds the position of Executive Director at Skoun, a harm reduction center based in Lebanon
Harm Reduction in Lebanon: Navigating the triple crisis
Since 2019, Lebanon went through one of the fastest economic collapses and one of the biggest explosions in history along with the Covid-19 pandemic. Today 80% of the country’s residents report not having access to basic rights and needs. The local currency lost over 90% of its value. In parallel, a corrupt government objects reforms that could open doors to recovery investments. The community of people who use drugs - PWUD face the daily threat of losing access to harm reduction support programs. This abstract addresses the past and ongoing efforts that help them sustain access to care and support.
There is no national prevalence data on drug use in Lebanon, but periodic and centralized assessments show a growing number of people who are using drugs. A yearly increasing number of PWUD are also seeking support. In the wake of the ongoing humanitarian emergency, PWUD found themselves excluded of most aspects of response from service provision, to basic assistance to protection.
Lebanon criminalizes drug use based on a law passed in 1998. However, the past 2 decades witnessed many advancements in harm reduction from service provision to policy reform brought forward by a small network of local CSOs and advocates. Over the past 3 years, these activists are exposing the consequences of the crises of PWUD, bringing to light the effects of years of criminalization, stigma and marginalization and using this moment of disruption to reshape policies, practices and mindset through:
Advocacy with local authorities
Advocacy with humanitarian actors
Awareness on the needs of PWUD
Continuity of access to harm reduction services
Inclusion of PWUD in the national humanitarian response programming
Integration of Harm Reduction Services at the primary healthcare level
Decentralizing Harm Reduction services
Law Reform brought back to parliamentarian agenda