28th February 2022 – UNODC and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (The Global Fund), have sought close collaboration in the past years in supporting evidence-based HIV interventions, access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care services for people who use drugs (PWUD) and people in prison. Accordingly, this collaboration has been formalized with the first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Global Fund and UNODC, signed by the principals of the two organizations in February 2022. This MoU will aid the implementation of the Global Fund Strategy, the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026, and the UNODC Strategy 2021-2025 in addressing HIV among people who use drugs and people in prison. In light of this MoU, the two organizations have partnered to continue the series of webinars to build momentum for the implementation and scaleup of harm reduction interventions in selected African countries that have grant programmes from the Global Fund targeting key populations (KPs), in particular people who use drugs.
In this respect, UNODC, in collaboration with The Global Fund and WHO, organized a webinar on “Implementing Comprehensive HIV Prevention Programmes Among People Who Use Drugs in Mozambique – A Collaborative Approach”. The purpose of this webinar was to strengthen collaboration and increase decision makers’ engagement in the national HIV response among PWUD and people in prison and to encourage stronger political commitment and a cooperative approach in responding to the HIV epidemic on the national level, including the mobilization and allocation of adequate resources for HIV/AIDS-related activities. Thus, participants discussed the need for government stakeholders to collaborate in implementing HIV prevention interv
The event, which was held in a hybrid format with both in-person and virtual attendees, was opened by Mr. Marco Teixeira, the head of the UNODC office in Mozambique, who highlighted UNODC’s core mandate of building strong partnerships and meaningfully involving drug control and law enforcement agencies, prison authorities, justice and health sectors, civil society, and community-led organizations in the national AIDS responses to achieve successful public health impacts.
Other speakers included Ms. Filipe Naftal Filimone, Central Office for Prevention and Fight Against Drugs (GCPCD); Ms. Josefa Mazive, from the National AIDS Council (NAC); Dr. Wilza Fumo, Ministry of Health (MOH); Dr. Manuel Cardoso, General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies (SICAD); Ms. Mary Mugambi, Head of Prevention, Key Population (KP) Programme, NASCOP; and Ms. Nurbai Calu, Technical Officer, STI/HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, WHO.
Each speaker addressed the plans and activities of their respective institutions with respect to the implementation of harm reduction in Mozambique. The representatives from the GCPCD, Dr. Filipe Naftal Filimone and the NAC, Ms. Josefa Mazive, spoke on the development of the National Harm Reduction Plan and the challenges faced by KPs in Mozambique, respectively. Dr. Fumo, in his presentation, outlined some of the key challenges to the national implementation of harm reduction. These included limited knowledge regarding drug use and drug use disorders among the general population and among professionals from specific areas, including public health; new drugs on the market specifically targeting youth and adolescents; and the lack of drop-in or rehabilitation centers. Thus, he emphasized that a collective effort is required for a sustainable HIV response in Mozambique. In her presentation, Dr. Calu spoke on WHO technical assistance in the development of the Harm Reduction Action Plan and the OAT guidelines, and finally, Dr. Cardoso and Ms. Mugambi shared the Portuguese and Kenyan experiences in implementing harm reduction interventions, respectively.
At the end of the webinar, partners emphasized the need to build upon progress made from this webinar and expressed interest in study visits to Portugal and Kenya to learn about the implementation of their national programmes for PWUDs.