Harm and Risk Reduction in Portugal
"The main priority established by the current national plan in the area of risk and harm reduction is to promote and develop the existing risk and harm reduction intervention model and adapt it to the evolving drug use phenomenon by promoting effective and integrated responses. The governance and implementation of harm reduction services and interventions occur within the framework of the Operational Plan for Integrated Responses (PORI). This plan, managed by the General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD), relies on the assessment made by the regional health authorities, based on which regional and local intervention needs are identified. While non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were instrumental in the creation of an infrastructure of health and social service providers under Decree Law 183/2001 and continue to play an important role, harm reduction has also become an integrated part of the services provided by the national network of health service providers. The current Action Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies Horizon 2020 continues to promote harm reduction, and legislation to strengthen state funding for harm reduction NGOs was adopted in 2018, increasing the sustainability of their work.
"Harm reduction interventions
"A nationwide network of harm reduction programmes and structures, including needle and syringe exchange programmes, low-threshold substitution programmes, drop-in centres/shelters, refuges, contact units and outreach teams, has been consolidated in areas of intensive drug use with the aim of preventing drug-related risks such as infectious diseases, social exclusion and delinquency.
"The National Commission for the Fight Against AIDS (Comissão Nacional de Luta Contra a SIDA), in cooperation with the National Association of Pharmacies (Associação Nacional de Farmácias), implements the national needle and syringe programme, Say No to a Used Syringe. The programme involves pharmacies, primary care health centres and NGOs, and includes several mobile units. Approximately 57 million syringes were distributed under this needle and syringe programme between its launch in October 1993 and December 2017, and the latest evaluation of the programme emphasises the important contribution made by pharmacies, drug facilities and outreach work to its delivery.
"An increasing trend in the number of syringes dispensed has been observed in recent years, with more than 1.4 million syringes distributed in 2017.
"Treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and hepatitis B and C virus infections is included in the range of services provided by the National Health Service of Portugal and is available free of charge."
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2019), Portugal: Country Drug Report 2019, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.