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Publications: WWUD
2020
EHRA
Harm reduction service delivery to people who use drugs during a public health emergency: Examples from the COVID-19 pandemic in selected countries

In some countries, there has been a positive recognition to the needs of people sleeping rough and their vulnerabilities during a public health emergency. It is incumbent upon governments to work with local partners to ensure that rapid responses to the housing of people sleeping rough addresses the often complex needs of such people through an interdisciplinary approach so that their immediate and longer-term medical, psycho-social and economic needs are integrated into the provision of accommodation. This can be accomplished through partnerships built with other stakeholders during normal times and by having multidisciplinary teams, that include mental health staff, working on the streets with people sleeping rough. Such responses to homelessness and rough sleeping during a public health emergency is an opportunity to advocate at all levels of government for a longerterm strategy to comprehensively and holistically address such issues, together with long-term sustainable funding to implement such a plan. Furthermore, it is vital to ensure that there is a buffer stock of vital medicines already in-country for at least the forthcoming 3-6 months; this applies to all sectors of society and particularly those medications most in need by vulnerable and marginalised individuals and communities – including the treatment of TB and HCV (especially Direct-Acting Antivirals) as well as for HIV (antiretrovirals) and Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST, meaning methadone and/or buprenorphine), as well as naloxone for opioid overdose.

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