Kenya: Nairobi This week, more than 20 delegates from AfricaNPUD and MENANPUD got together to learn more about making the voices of people who use drugs heard in conversations about the protection and promotion of their human rights.
People who use drugs are more likely to contract HIV, hepatitis and have poor access to health care services because of the criminalisation of drug use, restrictive drug policies, and aggressive law enforcement.
The removal of these barriers is dependent on the empowerment of people who use drugs to be able to identify and catalogue them so that they can advocate for changes and hold governments accountable for implementing law and policy regarding decriminalisation and the removal of punitive policies.
“For us, people who use drugs must be the drivers of any changes relating to their human rights and access to health care services. We and our partners UNAIDS, MENANPUD and AfricaNPUD, are committing resources to give members of the network practical advocacy skills that are portable and relevant in their diverse operating environments.” Says Olga Szubert, responsible for Programme Oversight at INPUD.
AfricaNPUD, a network that seeks to promote the views of Africans who use drugs through empowering the community of People Who Use Drugs (PWUDs) to advocate across national and global fora on issues directly affecting PWUDs in Africa, was also present at the training.
“For us, the phrase “nothing for us, unless by us” lives in making sure that the network is present in conversations about policies and regulations relating to our human rights and access to harm reduction services. Learning how to amplify our voices through building appropriate partnerships at specific forums on the continent and at regional level is essential to give prominence to people who use drugs.” Richard NININAHAZWE the representative of AfricaNPUD who is from Burundi.
The Middle East and North Africa Network of/for People who use Drugs (MENANPUD), is a support group of activists drug users from the MENA region. They focus on raising the voice of the Drug users while empowering them to advocate for their rights. MENANUPD promotes harm reduction and spread awareness around related issues.
“Our aim is to unite the efforts of the drug users in the MENA region and stand against discrimination. We want to help people who use drugs in the region take up space in places from which they have been historically excluded. We want to amplify our voices to be heard in conversations about us and our bodies. The practical skills from this training will help us aim our available resources at levers that will deliver change.” Hasan Abdulaziz Mohsen Taraif the representative of MENANPUD who is from Bahrain.
The 30-80-60 targets on community service delivery outlined in the Global AIDS Strategy aim for 60% of societal enabler programmes to be delivered by community-led organisation will only be achieved if more people who use drugs are involved in the many conversations happening about them and can effect changes in their lives through these conversations.