Harm Reduction International is pleased to invite you to Harm Reduction 2011: Harm Reduction International’s 22nd International Conference.
The annual international conference is a key event for all those interested in harm reduction around the world. The 2011 conference will include high profile Keynote speeches, Plenary Sessions, Major Sessions, Concurrent Sessions, Workshops, a Film Festival, Poster Exhibition, Exhibition areas, a Dialogue Space, social and networking events, and the annual Harm Reduction International Award presentations. The main language of the conference will be English but simultaneous translation will be provided in Arabic and French in all plenary and major rooms.
This is the first time we will hold the conference in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The region faces diverse and rapidly changing patterns of drug, tobacco and alcohol use. A few countries have introduced harm reduction, and there is much to be learnt from their experience. There is new interest in drugs and drug policy in the region and enormous potential to further promote harm reduction. In 2009 the Middle East and North African Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA) held the first regional conference on harm reduction in Beirut, Lebanon. It was a highly successful event bringing together policy makers, religious leaders, civil society representatives, front line workers and researchers to discuss harm reduction for the first time. The international conference will build on the success of that event.
Conference theme - ‘Building capacity, redressing neglect’
Although harm reduction has been adopted in policy and practice in more countries than ever before, significant gaps remain in the response.
The coverage of harm reduction programmes, and the capacity of civil society to respond to harm reduction issues, remains low in much of the world. In many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, for example, harm reduction is still a new or emerging concept. For this reason, the building of skills and capacity of civil society organisations in harm reduction implementation and advocacy will feature strongly in this year’s conference programme, and will include a dedicated stream of workshop and skills building sessions, designed specifically for participants from the MENA region.
Gaps in the response are not solely an issue in countries where harm reduction is new or emerging. Even in those in which harm reduction is well established, the development of specific policies and programmes to meet the needs of women and other vulnerable populations has often been neglected. This year’s conference will therefore also contain a strong focus on women, drug use and harm reduction, and provide a forum to highlight the needs of women who use drugs and other marginalised populations within the overall harm reduction response.
- The objectives of the conference are:
- To exchange knowledge about new scientific research and evidence on psychoactive drug use including alcohol and tobacco, drug related harms and the effectiveness of harm reduction interventions.
- To involve a broad range of participants from the Middle East and North Africa and beyond including government officials, frontline workers, HIV/AIDS and drug user advocates, people working in criminal justice, human rights advocates, law enforcement personnel, researchers and scientists.
- To enhance advocacy in MENA and internationally for harm reduction
- To enable the transfer of harm reduction knowledge and sharing of best practices
- To raise awareness of human rights issues related to psychoactive drug use and harm reduction