15 November 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 on Harm Reduction in Asia

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Protecting harm reduction services during COVID-19

This report and briefing summarise evidence from civil society in seven Asian countries (Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam) and provides recommendations to donors and governments on protecting harm reduction in the COVID-19 era.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the actions taken by governments to contain it have had a profound impact on health and harm reduction services around the world. The World Health Organization has warned of significant disruptions to medical supply chains,  especially given the unprecedented global recession underway. This could lead to increased deaths among people living with HIV and reverse the hard-fought gains of the global HIV response.

People who use drugs, especially people who smoke or inject drugs, face additional risks and vulnerabilities to COVID-19 infection compared to the general population. Maintaining services for this population and safeguarding funding for harm reduction is therefore crucial. The pandemic and related responses have affected harm reduction service provision and the lives of people who use drugs worldwide.

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on harm reduction funding and service provision is essential for informing donor and government action as well as civil society advocacy.

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