On 16 December, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Moldova and prison authorities launched the medical waste processing equipment allowing the safe disposal of needles and syringes collected through harm reduction programme sites in prisons. This equipment will ensure a safer environment for inmates and prison staff, and an effective recycling and processing of the medical waste.Moldovan prison authorities have demonstrated leadership and pragmatism in adopting evidence-based HIV prevention programs. Moldova remains one of the few countries in the world where comprehensive harm reduction services are available in prisons. In terms of statistics, the number of new cases of HIV infection detected amongst inmates decreased from 32 cases (2003) to 21 cases (2013) and deaths amongst people with HIV in prisons has dropped by two thirds, going from 23% (2007) to 8.6% (2013).
Currently, the prison system is implementing 13 of the 15 interventions recommended within the comprehensive package of harm reduction services. Prisons implement services such as the Needle and Syringe Program, Opioid Substitution Treatment with Methadone, ARV treatment, TB and DOTS+ treatment, condom program, peer-to-peer support activities, drugs overdose management, safety and security for prison personnel procedures, and others.The comprehensive package of services implemented in Moldovan prisons received high recognition at the 37th UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board meeting, held in Geneva on October 26-27, 2015. For the first time, Moldova received international acknowledgement for having one of the best world practices in implementing HIV/AIDS strategies in prisons.
Moldovan prisons are providing a safe environment for people who inject drugs while in detention, and promote treatment and rehabilitation services for inmates with drug dependency who have HIV and TB.It was to further increase the effectiveness of this package of services in prisons and enhance the safety and security of personnel and volunteers while operating the Needle and Syringe program, that a biological waste management equipment designed to destroy consumed needle and syringes was recently adopted. The equipment will be installed in the Pruncul nr. 16 Prison Hospital and includes a decontaminating chamber and a high power destruction machine, which will transform medical waste into household waste for further recycling and waste processing.
The probability of accidents for staff is now reduced, together with the pollution effects of polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins which were released into the atmosphere with the previous incineration process. The innovative and ecologically safe waste management equipment will allow for the effective disposal of sharp objects and hazardous waste from the implementation of the Needle and Syringe Program. Currently, the Needle and Syringe exchange program is available in 13 prisons and temporary detention units, with 2 to 3 sites available in each prison.