The current National Anti-drug Strategy defines harm reduction as an entry point and an integrated part of the entire treatment chain operating on the basis of a recovery- based approach.
The National Office for Rehabilitation and Social Affairs funds low-threshold services under three-year contracts with service providers that are selected through a tendering procedure. To be eligible for funding, the applicant must deliver at least two of three basic services: psychosocial interventions, counselling services or street outreach. Needle and syringe exchange is a complementary service, which can be funded in combination with the basic services. The last three-year support cycle covered 2012-14 and, in 2015, national financing of all the organisations selected in 2012 was continued. Complementary funding for low- threshold activities may come from local governments and other ministry tendering procedures.
Needles and syringes are available throughout the country through the needle and syringe exchange programmes that are operated separately or integrated within the treatment system in conjunction with other low-threshold community services. Although the overall number of service providers has remained stable over recent years, each year there are reports of the opening or closure of such programmes. Harm reduction services are delivered at fixed locations, by mobile units and through outreach activities. In four cities, clean needles and syringes are also available from vending machines. In addition to sterile needles and syringes and counselling on safer injecting, most programmes also provide other injecting paraphernalia and condoms.
In the last five years, the annual number of syringes distributed in Hungary has fluctuated as a result of changing drug use patterns, decreases in funding or the closure of services; the 2016 EMCDDA HIV risk assessment indicated that the number of syringes distributed by specialised programmes was low.
In the last five years, the number of syringes distributed in Hungary has fluctuated as a result of changing drug use patterns, decreases in funding or the closure of services
Availability of selected harm reduction responses
NBYear of data 2016.