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Harm reduction overview for Portugal

Map of Portugal

1. National context

The main priority established by the National Plan Against Drugs and Drug Addictions 2013–20 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 evolution of the drug use phenomenon through promotion of effective and integrated responses.

A network of harm reduction programmes (syringe exchange, low-threshold substitution programmes, etc.) and structures, including drop-in centres, refuges, shelters, contact units and mobile centres, has been consolidated throughout the country in critical zones of intensive drug use, with the aim of preventing drug-related risks such as infectious diseases, social exclusion and delinquency.

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 Second-Hand Syringe, which was set up more than twenty years ago to prevent HIV amongst IDUs. The programme involves pharmacies, primary care health centres and NGOs, and includes several mobile units. At the end of 2012 the contract with the Association ended and the programme was implemented in the following years by health centres and NGOs alone. However, following the signing of a new agreement with the Association in 2014, pharmacies have re-initiated the programme. Approximately 51.5 million syringes have been given out under this programme between its launch in October 1993 and December 2013. In 2013 some 951 000 syringes were distributed by the programme. Overall trends in syringe exchange show an increase in syringe numbers until 2001 (3.5 million), followed by stabilisation at a lower level (2.7 million) until 2005, and a decline thereafter. An evaluation of the programme in 2002 concluded that it had been successful in preventing HIV infections among people who inject drugs. Districts such as Lisbon, Porto, Setúbal and Faro are places with a higher number of exchanged syringes, and have taken part in the programme since it started. In addition to needles, syringes and other injecting paraphernalia, the programmes also provide information services, psychosocial support and referrals, while pipes for inhalative drug use are being distributed in a pilot project.

Treatments for HIV and AIDS, HBV and HCV are included in the range of services of the National Health Service of Portugal and are available free of charge.

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

Needle and syringe programmes Country  data
Availability of  NSP programmes  Full
% NSP availability at NUTS3  73 %
Drug use equipment distributed at specialised drug agencies (standard prevention material)
availability of alcohol pads  Yes
availability of dry wipes  Yes
availability of containers  Yes
availability of water  Yes
availability of condoms  Yes
availability of foil  No

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  Full
Availability of universal hepatitis B immunization programme  Yes
Hepatitis B vaccination programme specific for high risk groups  Yes
ARV treatment of HIV infection  Full

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.
Health promotion responses Country  data
Availability of individual counselling programmes  Extensive
Availability of programmes for practical advice and training on 'safer use/safer injecting'  Extensive
Involvement of peer educators in the response to infectious diseases prevention  Yes

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  Full
Availability of individual overdose risk assessment (provided by trained drugs or health workers)  Extensive
Availability of overdose response training  Extensive

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  Rare Limited Limited  Extensive  Limited  Does not exist
Festivals  Limited  Extensive  Extensive  Extensive  Limited  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: Wednesday, 03 June 2015