August 14, 2023 - Cape Town, South Africa
The United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for Southern Africa’s Health Programme facilitated a pioneering capacitation workshop on harm reduction, with selected Local Drug Action Committee (LDACs) representatives during Africa Policy Week; on the 14th of August 2023 in Cape Town. This capacitation workshop was the first of its kind ever facilitated in South Africa and were much needed given intervention challenges LDACs experience from especially a harm reduction perspective.
The nineteen selected LDAC representatives were excited about this groundbreaking capacitation initiative as LDACs in the country do not always get the opportunity to access evidence-based harm reduction training opportunities. Contributing to the enthusiasm during the capacitation workshop was, an opportunity to raise concerns and challenges regarding uncertainties about harm reduction in the National Drug Master Plan (2019-2024), substance use disorder (SUD) service challenges at municipal level, and to obtain a basic yet reliable understanding of evidence-based harm reduction from renowned experts in the field.
A competent team of harm reduction experts from the South African Network of People Who Use Drugs (SANPUD) facilitated the capacitation workshop and a spectrum of subjects related to the South African harm reduction landscape were covered. The capacitation workshop included theoretical content, robust group discussions and exercises. Contributing to the overwhelming success of this capacitation workshop was an open and honest discussion about harm reduction including resistance to this evidence-based intervention for SUDs based on the country’s long history of abstinence-based services. When attendees evaluated the capacitation workshop, it was ascertained that this thought-provoking engagement was a significant stride forward for both LDACs and Provincial Substance Abuse Forums, as harm reduction advocacy by LDACs and interventions at municipal level is pioneering and uncharted terrain in South Africa.