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ID: 353

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Practice

Topics: Community Mobilisation and Organising

Presenting author: Shaun Shelly

Presenting author biography:

Shaun Shelly works for the South African organisation TB/HIV Care Association. He is a tireless advocate for the human rights of people who use drugs and was involved form the early days of harm reduction programming in South Africa.

Community at the heart of the response in South Africa

Shaun Shelly, Judy Chang, Mick Webb, Mac Busz

The term “harm reduction” is included, but poorly defined, in South Africa’s National Drug Master Plan 2013-2017. Despite a progressive rights-based Constitution, the rights of people who use drugs are poorly recognised and the first harm reduction project was not started until 2014. Funded by PEPFAR and Mainline, and implemented by local NGOs, TB/HIV Care Association and OUT Well-Being, this pilot project provides services in three cities: Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria. Our presentation will discuss the approach taken by TB/HIV Care, INPUD and Mainline in delivering services to, and advocating for, the rights of people who use drugs. We will share some of the successes and challenges in bringing community-based harm reduction programming to South Africa.

Following the principle of “nothing for us without us”, Community Advisory Groups (CAGs) were formed prior to project implementation. Groups continue to gather monthly and advise the implementing organisations on outreach routes, needed interventions, feedback on services use, and appropriateness of materials and draw attention to critical and outstanding issues.

Human rights violations seriously hinder harm reduction responses. INPUD and Mainline have coordinated human rights training. Outreach workers and community members were trained on identifying, documenting and recording human rights violations. They successfully developed their own human rights violation tool, and the recording of violations was integrated into daily service delivery. This resulted in the collection of over 300 cases of human rights violations in the first year (2015/16). This report forms the basis of an effective lobby led by TB/HIV Care.

This project is supported by Bridging the Gaps II programme. The presenter summarize what a community-based and human rights centred approach to harm reduction in South Africa looks like and describe the next steps including the formation of a PWUD network in South Africa.