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 to 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 of Integrated Responses (PORI). This plan, managed by SICAD, relies on the diagnosis made by the regional authorities of health, after which intervention needs are identified in specific territories. While non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were instrumental during the creation of an infrastructure of health- and social service providers under Decree Law 183/2001, harm reduction has also become an integrated part of the services provided by the national network of health service providers.
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 crime.
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, which was set up more than 20 years ago to prevent HIV among people who inject drugs. The programme involves pharmacies, primary care health centres and NGOs, and includes several mobile units.
Availability of selected harm reduction responses
NB Year of data 2016.
Approximately 54 million syringes were distributed under this needle and syringe programme, in cooperation with pharmacies, between its launch in October 1993 and December 2015. Overall trends in syringe exchange show an increase in syringe numbers dispensed until 2001, followed by stabilisation at a lower level until 2005, and a decline thereafter. In 2015, around one million syringes were distributed by the programme. In 2014, SICAD initiated a two-year project to develop guidelines focusing on the competencies of harm reduction teams.
Treatment for HIV, AIDS, HBV and HCV is included in the range of services provided by the National Health Service of Portugal and is available free of charge.
Approximately 54 million syringes were distributed under this needle and syringe programme, in cooperation with pharmacies, between its launch in 1993 and December 2015