Finnish harm reduction services were established in the late 1990s and are implemented by municipal bodies. The Government Resolution on the Action Plan to Reduce Drug Use and Related Harm 2016-19 puts an emphasis on further expansion of coverage and continuity of harm reduction interventions.
In Finland, harm reduction services are delivered through outreach work and local health counselling centres. In addition, some harm reduction activities are carried out at treatment units. Outreach work mainly involves street patrols, with the aim of mediating between drug users and the official care system. Peer work is used in several locations and focuses on reaching the most excluded groups of drug users. Health counselling centres that provide sterile injecting equipment to prevent infectious diseases are located mainly in cities with more than 100 000 inhabitants and are available at 38 locations across Finland.
The key components of the Finnish harm reduction services are provision of injecting equipment; rapid, anonymous point-of-care testing for human immunodeficiency virus infection and provision of vaccination; referral to treatment services; case management; and provision of information on drug-related diseases and risks, such as overdoses.
According to the available data, the number of clients using needle and syringe programmes at health counselling centres almost doubled over the period 2001-15, and the number of syringes given out also increased. Needles and syringes can also be purchased without medical prescription at most pharmacies in Finland, and pharmacies play a key role in needle and syringe provision in areas where there are no health counselling centres. Vaccination against hepatitis A and B viruses is free for people who inject drugs (PWID) as part of the general vaccination programme. The available data indicate that more than one third of PWID in contact with the drug treatment system have received full vaccination, and more than half have received at least one dose.
The first national hepatitis C virus strategy, for 2017-19, was adopted in 2016; it aims to increase access to treatment with direct-acting antivirals.
|Country||Needle and syringe programmes||Take-home naloxone programmes||Drug consumption rooms||Heroin-assisted treatment|