Punjab launches key project for harm-reduction in women drug users

Devinder Singh Kohli | November 19, 2018 07:19 PM
Punjab launches key project for harm-reduction in women drug users




Department of Health & Family Welfare, Punjab here today launched a model demonstration project on comprehensive health and rights based response for women who use drugs. The project will be implemented in Kapurthala district of Punjab in partnership with ‘Harm Reduction Advocacy in Asia Program’ (HRAsia) implemented by India HIV/AIDS Alliance with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The project aims to maximize the impact of investments that can help break the cycle of transmission of HIV among Person Who Inject Drugs (PWID) by addressing legal, policy and health system barriers hindering the access and coverage of core services and involves seven countries in the continent including India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal and the Philippines.

Sh. Satish Chandra Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Punjab formally launched the project during a workshop at Chandigarh on Monday. He elaborated the various steps taken by State Government to control the menace of drug abuse. He informed that Punjab has successfully implemented a new strategy of Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) Clinics which has been quite fruitful in controlling the drug abuse. He told that at present there are 160 OOAT Clinics functional across the state apart from 31 Drug de-addiction centers and 20 rehabilitation centers. Sh Satish Chandra appreciated the role of India HIV/AIDS Alliance for focusing on this issue pertaining to the health of women. He added that with the launch of this project in Kapurthala district of Punjab, Punjab Government with the assistance of ‘India HIV/AIDS Alliance’ plans to develop a comprehensive model of services for women who use drugs. He told that post successful implementation, the outcomes will be documented in order to provide further inputs to state and national government for development of appropriate polices and service provisions for women who use drugs.

Dr Umang Chawla, Director (Policy) India HIV/AIDS Alliance shared detailed presentation and roadmap for the implementation of the project. He said that Harm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of drugs. Harm reduction helps protect people from preventable diseases and death from overdose, and helps connect marginalized people with social and health services.

Dr. Jaspal Kaur, Director, Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Naresh Kansra Director, Family Welfare, Dr. Jagpal Singh Bassi, Director, ESI and Dr. Sandeep Bhola from the district hospital, Kapurthala, Dr Sukhwinder Kaur, Programme Officer (Mental Health), Punjab and officers from other stakeholder departments were present along with representatives from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Legal Policy Experts and Drug User Community Representatives.

During the workshop various experts discussed the Comprehensive Health and Rights based response for women who use drugs which included situational analysis and review of the existing service delivery models and best practices, in addition to demonstration project plan, presented by India HIV/AIDS Alliance.

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