This week, EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel and members of his staff have been visiting IN-Mouraria, a low-threshold harm-reduction centre based in Lisbon. In 2019, the centre will become a managing partner of one of the new drug consumption rooms (DCRs) to be implemented in the capital by the Lisbon Town Hall. The centre is supported by the Portuguese Group of Activists on HIV Treatments (GAT), a community-based NGO advocating for the interests of people living with HIV and viral hepatitis and providing essential services to a range of marginalised groups in downtown Lisbon.
IN-Mouraria offers a number of free, confidential services, including: basic healthcare; drop-in opportunities (with peer support and access to food, clothes, hygiene, telephone and internet); rapid testing for HIV, hepatitis B and C and syphilis; referrals to infectious disease clinics and other social services; distribution of injecting and smoking materials (syringes, crack pipes, foil) and safer use education.
A key feature of IN-Mouraria are its peer-led activities and research competence. Through workshops, presentations and other initiatives, peer educators (who use or have used drugs) perform harm-reduction interventions (e.g. safer use education, drop-in management, escorting clients to health appointments). It is also an important research site for projects with EU partners, where new initiatives are started and experiences tested and evaluated.
The visit followed an invitation by GAT to the EMCDDA Director and staff of the agency’s Public Health unit to learn about the daily work carried out at IN-Mouraria and the centre’s involvement in European research projects.
The EMCDDA Strategy 2025 underlines the agency’s role in acting as a catalyst for improving quality and implementation of interventions and a focus is placed on the reduction of drug-related deaths and infections. The visit provided EMCDDA staff with a welcome opportunity to touch base with the latest developments in harm reduction at the local level.
Next week, the EMCDDA will launch its European Drug Report 2018 in Brussels. Alongside the report, it will publish an updated review on drug consumption rooms.