In Cyprus, National Strategy on Illicit Substances Dependence and the Harmful Use of Alcohol for 2013-20 endorses harm reduction as one of its pillars, and the objectives include ensuring the implementation of harm reduction practices within the health system; promoting safer nightlife activities; reducing driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and reinforcing harm reduction practices within the treatment continuum. The new Action Plan 2017-20 includes, among other actions, the referral of people in contact with emergency services after an overdose to treatment, the introduction of take-home naloxone and the training of treatment personnel.
The Cyprus National Addictions Authority (NAAC) coordinates the development of strategies to reduce drug-related harm, in close cooperation with the various departments of the Ministry of Health, such as the National Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Programme and mental health services.
A low-threshold drop-in centre established in the capital city, Nicosia, in 2014 offers beverages and snacks, condoms, overdose prevention education, counselling for risk reduction and safer sex education to people who use drugs. The centre operates an outreach team as well as a syringe exchange programme. To increase anonymous access, syringe dispensing machines were installed in the country in 2017. In Cyprus, syringes are also available for purchase in all pharmacies. The majority of PWID taking part in a bio-behavioural survey in 2016-18 reported obtaining injecting equipment from pharmacies.
Other harm reduction measures in Cyprus include (i) testing for infectious diseases, vaccinations and referral for treatment; (ii) disseminating information and providing education; and (iii) providing medical care whenever necessary. These services are provided by all governmental (and some non-governmental) treatment programmes.
In 2014, the NAAC published the report Preventing the spread of infectious diseases in Cyprus, which includes specific recommendations for harm reduction interventions. In addition, a new national hepatitis strategy was in preparation in 2018. The NAAC, with the aim of reducing the risk of the transmission of infectious diseases, has promoted the implementation of community-based rapid screening by the treatment programmes, and the current action plan envisages that programme staff will receive relevant training. Following an initiative by the NAAC to improve the response to opioid-related deaths in Cyprus, a nasal naloxone spray was approved by the Ministry of Health in August 2018, and the introduction of a take-home naloxone programme is in preparation.
|Country||Needle and syringe programmes||Take-home naloxone programmes||Drug consumption rooms||Heroin-assisted treatment|