One of the main objectives of the Maltese National Drugs Policy adopted in 2008 is to achieve a high level of health protection and social cohesion by preventing and reducing drug-related harm to health and society. One of its aims is to ensure that vulnerable groups receive adequate health and social services, including harm reduction services for those for whom abstinence is not immediately viable or realistically possible.
In Malta, harm reduction responses relate to the prevention of drug-related infectious diseases and include access to clean injecting equipment, testing and counselling for infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), risk awareness and HBV vaccinations. Blood screening and counselling for infectious diseases are provided at the substance misuse outpatient unit but also at the prison and the sexual health clinic in Malta.
Needles and syringes are distributed at seven fixed locations across the country. In 2016, around 333 000 syringes were distributed through these specialised facilities. A special harm reduction centre for women who inject drugs is operated by Caritas and provides intensive therapy to clients who cannot achieve abstinence in the short term; sheltered accommodation and protection from different forms of violence and from involvement in sex work are also provided.
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