What we are calling for: DEFUND + REDIRECT + INVEST
We must defund punitive drug law enforcement responses that violate human rights.
We must redirect this funding towards life-saving, cost-effective, and rights-based harm reduction interventions.
We must invest in programmes which prioritise health, community and justice.
$100 billion is spent on global drug law enforcement every year, but just $131 million is spent on harm reduction. This means that we spend more than 750 times the amount on punitive responses than we do on life-saving services for people who use drugs.
In 2019, the total funding was just 5 percent of the $2.7 billion required for an effective response.
Not only are punitive responses ineffective at reducing drug use and sale, but they also drive the stigmatisation of people who use drugs, leading to discrimination and poor health outcomes for individuals and communities.
Funding for harm reduction in low- and middle-income countries is woefully short of what is required. In 2016, the total funding was just 13 percent of the $1.5 billion required for an effective response.
Our research shows that if we redirect just 7.5% of the funds currently spent on drug law enforcement towards health-based responses to drug use such as opioid agonist therapy, needle and syringe programmes, we could:
- Almost entirely end AIDS among people who inject drugs
- Prevent viral hepatitis among people who use drugs
- Save thousands of lives by giving Naloxone (a medicine which reverses opioid overdoses) to first responders, family, and community members
- Improve the health of people who use drugs in prisons and detention centres by providing harm reduction services in those settings
We know that harm reduction works. Decades of evidence have proven that harm reduction not only saves lives, but it saves money too. These cost-effective interventions keep people who use drugs safe and healthy, with a positive impact on the health and safety of their families and the wider community.
We must prioritise health.
We must prioritise communities.
We must prioritise justice
We must prioritise harm reduction.
To learn more:
- DIVEST. REDIRECT. INVEST. The case for redirecting funds from ineffective drug law enforcement to harm reduction – spotlight on six countries in Asia
- The lost decade: Neglect for harm reduction funding and the health crisis among people who use drugs (2018)
- Report to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Implementation of the UNGASS joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem with regard to human rights (2018)