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Harm reduction overview for Finland

Map of Finland

1. National context

In 1998, when the HIV epidemic began among Finnish drug users, public attention focused on preventing the disease being transmitted among people who inject drugs. Based on the Communicable Diseases Decree of 1986, which stipulates that the local level (municipalities) is in charge of the prevention of infectious diseases, harm reduction services were established and are implemented by municipal bodies.

Current harm reduction responses in Finland include 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 and hardest to reach groups of drug users.

Health counselling centres are low-threshold facilities catering for problem drug users, offering: referral to treatment; case management; information on drug-related diseases and risks such as overdoses; needle exchange; testing of infectious diseases and vaccinations; and small-scale healthcare. It should be noted that referral to treatment is considered an integral component of harm reduction services in Finland. However, there is some variation in service provision, depending on the facilities. The health counselling centres that provide sterile injecting equipment to prevent infectious diseases are located mainly in cities of over 100 000 inhabitants, and are available at about 35 locations across Finland (25 fixed sites, two sites serviced by outreach workers and 13 sites serviced by needle and syringe programme vans).

A decree on vaccinations passed in 2004 recommends, as part of the general vaccination programme, free vaccination against hepatitis A and B viruses for people who inject drugs (PWID), their sexual partners and individuals living in the same household. The most recent data indicate that more than one-third of PWID in contact with the drug treatment system had received all three vaccine doses and more than half had received at least one.

According to available data, the number of clients using the needle and syringe programmes at health counselling centres has significantly increased during the period 2001–10, from 8 400 to more than 14 000 individual clients reached. In recent years, client numbers seem to have stabilised at around 11 000. The number of syringes given out has increased year on year from 950 000 in 2001 to 3.8 million in 2013. 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.

In Finland the HBV vaccine is recommended for several high-risk groups, including prisoners and injecting drug users.

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2. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related infectious diseases

Needle and syringe programmes Country  data
Availability of  NSP programmes  :
% NSP availability at NUTS3  80 %
Drug use equipment distributed at specialised drug agencies (standard prevention material)
availability of alcohol pads  :
availability of dry wipes  :
availability of containers  :
availability of water  :
availability of condoms  :
availability of foil  :

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
For an explanation of terms used, see the definitions of terms.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Testing, vaccination and treatment of infections Country  data
Availability of Hepatitis C testing in the community  :
Availability of universal hepatitis B immunization programme  :
Hepatitis B vaccination programme specific for high risk groups  :
ARV treatment of HIV infection :

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 201.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Health promotion responses Country  data
Availability of individual counselling programmes  :
Availability of programmes for practical advice and training on 'safer use/safer injecting'  :
Availability of outreach programmes  :

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.

Drug Treatment

See the country specific treatment profile.

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3. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related deaths

Availability of drug-related death responses in the community Country  data
Availability of overdose information materials  :
Availability of individual overdose risk assessment (provided by trained drugs or health workers)  :
Availability of overdose response training  :

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Availability of drug consumption rooms Country  data
Number of facilities n.av.
Number of cities n.av.
Number of consumptions per year n.av.

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2011.
N.Av. stands for ‘The intervention is not available in the country’.

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4. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related harms in recreational settings

Provision of specific responses implemented in night clubs and festivals Free, accessible, cold water Immediate First Aid ‘Chill out’ rooms Information material Outreach work Amnesty bins
Night clubs  Full Rare Does not exist  Rare  Rare Does not exist
Festivals  Full Limited Limited  Limited  Extensive Does not exist

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2011.
Provision expert rating scale:

  • Full – in nearly all night clubs/festivals.
  • Extensive – a majority of night clubs/festivals provide the intervention (but not nearly all of them).
  • Limited – more than a few night clubs/festivals provide the intervention (but not a majority of them).
  • Rare – just a few night clubs/festivals provide the intervention.

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5. References and links

Related EMCDDA resources

 

About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Monday, 01 June 2015