Malta Country Drug Report 2019

Harm reduction

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, ultimately promoting a culture that discourages the use of illicit drugs. The aim of this policy is to ensure that vulnerable groups receive adequate health and social services, including harm reduction services for those to whom abstinence is not immediately viable.

Harm reduction interventions

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, in prison and at the sexual health clinic in Malta.

Needles and syringes are distributed at seven fixed locations across the country. In 2017, around 316 000 syringes were distributed through these specialised facilities, a decrease for the second consecutive year. A special harm reduction centre for women who inject drugs is operated by Caritas and provides sheltered accommodation and intensive therapy to clients who cannot achieve abstinence in the short term. Protection from different forms of violence and from involvement in sex work is also provided.

Availablity of selected harm reduction responses in Europe
Country Needle and syringe programmes Take-home naloxone programmes Drug consumption rooms Heroin-assisted treatment
Austria Yes No No No
Belgium Yes No Yes No
Bulgaria Yes No No No
Croatia Yes No No No
Cyprus Yes No No No
Czechia Yes No No No
Denmark Yes Yes Yes Yes
Estonia Yes Yes No No
Finland Yes No No No
France Yes Yes Yes No
Germany Yes Yes Yes Yes
Greece Yes No No No
Hungary Yes No No No
Ireland Yes Yes No No
Italy Yes Yes No No
Latvia Yes No No No
Lithuania Yes Yes No No
Luxembourg Yes No Yes Yes
Malta Yes No No No
Netherlands Yes No Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes No
Poland Yes No No No
Portugal Yes No No No
Romania Yes No No No
Slovakia Yes No No No
Slovenia Yes No No No
Spain Yes Yes Yes No
Sweden Yes No No No
Turkey No No No No
United Kingdom Yes Yes No Yes

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.