Public health and justice were front and centre in 2020, as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic and was galvanised to protest against structural racism and police brutality.
The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing inequities in society. It has highlighted not only the critical importance of investing in public health, but in responses that are grounded in evidence, are rights-based, and that reach the most marginalised and vulnerable among us.
In 2020, Harm Reduction International found new ways to work together to advocate for the health, rights and dignity of people who use drugs, while ensuring that we used our expertise in tracking developments in harm reduction to map the impact of COVID-19 in our sector.
Most remarkably, amidst global upheaval, there have been significant gains in harm reduction and human rights. Communities and civil society have found new and innovative ways to reach people where they are at, creating important momentum for the permanent acceptance of health interventions which centre human dignity, agency and lived experience. Through the challenges of our diverse global experiences of lockdown, people who use drugs have led with courage and compassion, demonstrating the case for community leadership – yet again.