Friends-International is pleased to announce the recent renewal of the Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) license for Mith Samlanh, making it currently the only organization authorized to provide this service in Cambodia
NSP’s have proved effective in preventing the spread of HIV infections and other blood borne infections in many countries. By providing injecting drug users with clean equipment, such as needles and syringes, swabs, tourniquets and spoons, the risk of transmitting diseases is reduced not only amongst intravenous drug users (IDUs), but also infection risks to the general community are significantly minimised.
Intravenous drug use was first identified on the streets of Phnom Penh in 2001. According to the most recent UNAIDS Cambodia progress report (2010) the HIV prevalence rate for Injecting Drug Users is 24.4%.
Friends-International, the first organization to offer drug services in Cambodia to drug using children and youth since 1998, has developed a comprehensive Continuum of Care. The harm reduction component of the model focuses on street-based users, and includes the provision of clean syringes to IDUs. The establishment of the Needle and Syringe Program in 2003 was significant, as it lead to harm reduction being adopted as official policy, with the Government developing its Harm Reduction/Needle Needle and Syringe Program Guidelines.
Mith Samlanh is currently the only organization authorized to offer an NSP in Cambodia. The program, embedded within broader harm reduction services, has proven successful over the years. The recent license renewal by the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) means that, with financial support from the HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Program (HAARP), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) clean Needles and Syringes will continue to be provided in the year to come by outreach workers to IDUs in Phnom Penh.