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ID: 1435

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Harm Reduction Advocacy and Activism

Presenting author: Ian Hodgson

Presenting author biography:

Ian Hodgson is an independent consultant. Areas of interest include harm reduction, HIV stigma, HIV treatment access, adolescents living with HIV, advocacy, and project evaluation. He has worked in a range of locations in Asia, Africa, and Europe, on community-based capacity building for policy development.

Harm reduction advocacy: models and evaluation methods

Olya Golichenko, Ian Hodgson, Sochenda Sou, Viswanathan Arumugam, Oanh Khuất Thị Hải, Fifa Rahman, Susie McLean

In 2013-2015 the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and partners advocated for political support around harm reduction and drug policy reform in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Advocates in each country recorded their work using advocacy logs. Effective advocacy models and contribution to policies and service development were identified during project evaluation. Methods of evaluation included thematic analysis and semi-structured interviews with advocates, stakeholders, and people using drugs (PUD).

Advocacy aimed to improve services and policies for drug users in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Different approaches to advocacy, such as the development of model programming to demonstrate alternatives to incarceration for PUD, or the effectiveness of take home methadone, were advanced. Multiple advocacy targeting methods were utilized to personalize communication with decision makers. Leadership by PUD and engagement in key policy mechanisms achieved positive outcomes. Advocacy logs enabled better analysis of advocacy outcomes and, through the use of theories of change and advocacy asks, confirmed contribution to policy change.

Take home methadone and community-based drug dependency treatment services became available for 362 PUD in Yunnan and Hubei provinces in China. A voluntary drug dependence treatment system was piloted in three Vietnamese provinces and adopted by government for national level scale up. A drug policy reform process was initiated in Malaysia, and in India one state government launched a state-level drug control policy. In Cambodia, the Ministry of Health initiated take home methadone maintenance therapy and the first national harm reduction strategy to strengthen community-based treatment. In designing and delivering multi-country advocacy we learnt about adapting advocacy styles to different political cultures. Further lessons include types of evidence that are most compelling for driving advocacy, the value of strategic partnerships, and the benefits of offering practical solutions to national problems.