24th International Harm Reduction Conference (IHRC 2015) kicks off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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For Immediate Release

Malaysia’s harm reduction success story, The Death Penalty in Asia, access to essential medicines like morphine and harm reduction funding to feature prominently at International Conference in KL

Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniamto to open the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday October 18

Thursday, 15 October,  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) — Malaysia’s leadership in introducing harm reduction measures a decade ago to turn back its HIV/AIDS epidemic and the need to scale up similar interventions globally will feature prominently at the 24th edition of the International Harm Reduction Conference (IHRC 2015), which was launched today in Kuala Lumpur.

The conference is expected to attract up to 1000 United Nations representatives, scientists, politicians, researchers, welfare workers, doctors and drug user activists, from around 60 countries. The three previous editions of the conference took place in Vilnius, Lithuania (2013); Beirut, Lebanon (2011) and Liverpool, UK (2010).

Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, will address conference delegates at the opening ceremony on Sunday, October 18.

A special one-day symposium on HIV/AIDS and Islam will take place on Saturday October 17.

“We’re delighted with Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam’s participation in the International Harm Reduction Conference this year, especially given Malaysia’s courageous leadership on harm reduction in the region,” said Rick Lines, Executive Director of Harm Reduction International (HRI), convenors of the conference. “We’d be making much stronger inroads into the HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C epidemics in Asia if other countries had followed a similar path to the one Malaysia took a decade go.”

In 2005 the Malaysian government introduced harm reduction programs including clean needle exchange and methadone maintenance therapy which turned around an HIV/AIDS epidemic that was largely being driven by unsafe injecting drug use.

Much of the impetus for Malaysia’s new public health policy towards drug use in 2005 was driven by the proactive lobbying of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) who have been at the heart of the country’s HIV/AIDS response. MAC is the official local partner for IHRC 2015.

"The great strides we’ve made in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic means that we now have the potential not to lose anyone young to AIDS, here in Malaysia or anywhere else in Asia for that matter," said Datuk Dr. Raj Karim, President of MAC. "It is therefore important that we continue advocating for harm reduction and demonstrating to the public its successes, benefits and how relevant it is to their lives."

To that end, Fahrin Ahmad, a MAC Red Ribbon Celebrity Supporter – actor, TV show host, entrepreneur – and Carey Ng, the National Director of Miss Universe Malaysia Organization (and a former Miss Universe Malaysia 2013) have also been confirmed as patrons of the IHRC 2015.

“We’re delighted that both Fahrin and Carey are helping us to spread the message about this vital work to their respective fan bases,” Raj added.

Ng’s role as IHRC 2015 patron is a natural extension of Miss Universe Malaysia Organization's partnership with the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAC's fundraising arm), which was launched recently. Its aim is to raise awareness of women's HIV and gender issues, challenge gender associated misconceptions, taboos and stereotypes, and alleviate the plight of women who are affected by HIV by raising funds for the Foundation's women HIV health and empowerment programmes.

Conference Highlights

The 24th International Harm Reduction conference takes place against a backdrop of intense debate around international drug policy ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs taking place in New York in April 2016. In recent years there have been policy shifts by some countries (Uruguay decriminalising marijuana use for instance) towards a more public health approach to drug use away from criminalisation.

With that in mind, the conference programme will include a special session on the Death Penalty for Drug Offences featuring the participation of high profile lawyers and activists lobbying against the death penalty in their own countries. The death penalty is an issue that has attracted enormous media attention this year over the executions in Indonesia of two of the “Bali 9” men Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

The negative impact of the so called “War on Drugs” on the provision of Essential Medicines such as morphine and methadone will also be a focus of IHRC 2015 with the release of a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy on Monday October 19.

High-level key speaker confirmations at the IHRC 2015 include:

President Ruth Dreifuss - former President of Switzerland, member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy;

Michel Kazatchkine, UN Secretary General‘s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, member Global Commission on Drug Policy;

Lambert Grijns, Special Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) & HIV/AIDS at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands;

Marijke Wijnroks, Chief of Staff, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria;

Anand Grover, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Member Global Commission on Drug Policy


To join the conversation, please visit our Facebook Page Updates on the campaign are publicly available on our Twitter Feed or via the hashtag #IHRC2015.

Further information:

Conference program updates can be downloaded here

Media registration

Registration is free to all accredited media. To register please email media@hri.global

Media Enquiries:

Michael Kessler (In Kuala Lumpur, October 11-24)
Michael Kessler Media
Media Manager IHRC 2015
Email: michael.kessler@intoon-media.com
Mobile: +60 13 270 9220
Skype: mickgpi
Twitter: twitter.com/mickessler

Zaki Arzmi
Media & Communications Manager, Malaysian AIDS Council
Mobile : +60 16 292 2948
Email : zaki@mac.org.my

About the Conference Organisers:

Harm Reduction International (HRI)

Harm Reduction International is a leading non-governmental organisation working to promote and expand support for harm reduction. With over 8,000 members worldwide, Harm Reduction International is the largest membership-based global harm reduction association. HRI works to reduce the negative health, social and human rights impacts of drug use and drug policy – such as the increased vulnerability to HIV and hepatitis infection among people who inject drugs – by promoting evidence-based public health policies and practices, and human rights based approaches to drug policy.


Malaysian AIDS Council

The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) was established in 1992 to serve as an umbrella organisation to support and coordinate the efforts of non-governmental and other organisations working on HIV/AIDS issues in Malaysia. MAC works in partnership with

government agencies, the private sector and international organisations to ensure a committed and effective response to HIV/AIDS issues in Malaysia.


Indivior began with the goal of addressing the lack of treatment for the worldwide problem of addiction. In 1994, RB established the Buprenorphine Business Group, to which Indivior can trace its history of over 20 years. The buprenorphine Business Group focused on developing buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence. Even though it was an area of business that was unproven, we believed we could make a measurable difference in the lives of patients all over the world. Through a grassroots effort, we’ve partnered with and educated governments, policy makers, payers, and heathcare professionals about diseases of addiction and the value of alternative treatment options (including office-based treatment). We’ve also worked diligently and strategically to identify and address the unmet treatment needs of patients. By creating a marketplace environment of increased acceptance, we have provided an estimated 5 million patients effective treatment options with SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and naloxone) Sublingual Film (CIII), SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and naloxone) Sublingual Tablet (CIII), and SUBUTEX® (buprenorphine) Sublingual Tablet (CIII) in the US alone, always keeping our focus on the individual.


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