Lisbon (Portugal), 1 July 2022 – Between 27 June and 1 July 2022, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized an exchange visit with representatives of key Mozambican institutions to Portugal to discuss the practical implementation of national programs on prevention, treatment, care, and support services for people who use drugs, including in prison settings.
In the framework of its national technical assistance mandate, UNODC facilitates exchange visits for national authorities to other countries, as this has proven a useful method to learn from existing experiences and see how policy translates into practice.
Use of drugs in Mozambique remains relevant due to its consequences for affected individuals as well as the security of communities. Among the health issues that people who use drugs are affected by in Mozambique, HIV infections remain a key concern. The link between drug use and the HIV epidemic in the country has been acknowledged in the National Strategic Plan to Combat HIV/AIDS. Due to specific risk behaviors, people who use drugs are exposed to higher transmission rates, as well as the stigma associated with elicited drug use.
The first Biological Behavioral Survey among people who use drugs conducted in the country in 2013/2014 in the Maputo and Nampula/Nacala Provinces, found a prevalence of 50.1% and 19.9% for HIV positivity respectively. The survey also found the need to improve access and use of health and social services, including the establishment of harm reduction programs for people who use drugs in the country.
The visit thus featured several on-site visits to existing prevention and care networks, which served as an opportunity for Mozambican institutions to envision how to increase access to and ensure continuity and sustainability of evidence-based and human rights-based services for drug users in their country, including in prisons, by looking at Portugal’s approach on the matter.
Ongoing technical assistance from UNODC to Mozambican institutions builds on a previous webinar on the “Drug Policy in Portugal” earlier in the year, whereby national policies and strategies, as well as national programs and interventions for people who use drugs and in prisons were discussed with Mozambican counterparts.
With the assistance of UNODC, lessons learnt from these experiences will later contribute to the reflections associated with the development by the Government of Mozambique of a National Plan for Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction.
UNODC will continue support the Government of Mozambique in the development of adequate national responses to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among people who use drugs and people in prison.
“Support to national strategies and priorities continues to be UNODC’s main goal to ensure the full ownership of best practices in prevention, treatment, care, and support services for people who use drugs”, said Mr. Marco Teixeira, Head of the UNODC Mozambique Office.
These initiatives are part of UNODC’s efforts to support the implementation of the “Maputo Roadmap of UNODC engagement in Mozambique”, a comprehensive capacity building assistance roadmap, agreed on by the Government of Mozambique and UNODC, focusing on specific areas of policy development and technical assistance including on promoting health-based approaches used to drug prevention, treatment, care and rehabilitation of drug users, including on HIV prevention, treatment and care amongst people who inject drugs and people in prisons. These initiatives aim, specifically, to increase support to relevant governmental and multi-sectoral structures for Implementation of Comprehensive HIV Prevention Programs Among People who Use Drugs in Mozambique and are supported by the Embassy of Portugal and Unified Budget Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) in Mozambique.