1 April 2020
This information is provided to assist members and stakeholders access information and resources. For information about COVID-19, the World Health Organisation has the latest information regarding the pandemic.
HOW INHSU IS RESPONDING TO THE COVID-19
Like all organisations, INHSU is rapidly changing the way it does business in response to the risks posed by COVID-19. Currently, our staff are working from home, with all business interactions conducted electronically. As an organisation connecting with people globally, this is not too different to how we usually operate.
Is INHSU currently providing education?
INHSU’s HCV in Primary Care and Drug and Alcohol Settings Online Learning Modules remain available here. These are free to access and open to all.
As INHSU’s HCV education workshops have generally been face-to-face, we have suspended upcoming workshops. We are currently exploring alternative ways to provide education and will update members and partners shortly.
What about the conference?
Given the ongoing impact of COVID-19, INHSU has made the difficult decision to postpone our annual conference. This means that we will hold our next major conference in Glasgow in the later part of 2021. We are working to secure dates and will provide an update as soon as these are confirmed.
Given the ongoing uncertainty regarding the progression of the pandemic, the disruption to travel and the impact on economies around the world, we believe the most appropriate course of action is to delay the conference until next year.
While we are unable to deliver a major conference in October, we do recognise that there will be a need for us to continue to connect to share our learnings, exchange knowledge and nurture professional relationships. As such, we will be creating opportunities for us to come together virtually and participate in a range of activities and events. We look forward to sharing our plans and inviting you to be part of these. We will continue to communicate with our network as these opportunities emerge.
Through this time, our thoughts remain with the patients, healthcare professionals, researchers and others who are responding directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For a full copy of our statement regarding postponing the conference can be found here.
How is INHSU supporting its members?
We know many of our members are directly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. And that a range of services and sector partners are working hard to ensure that people who use drugs are not disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.
We sincerely thank you for all your efforts.
INHSU will support this work by keeping members updated and connecting those within our network who are doing work in this area.
RESOURCES AND INFORMATION
INHSU partners and collaborators are producing a range of materials and resources. They include the following resources:
Resources for people who use drugs
The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) has produced an information hub that provides resources for people who use drugs in a range of languages. It is available on the INPUD website here. They also have resources for services working with people who use drugs.
The World Hepatitis Alliance has an information hub for people who are impacted by hepatitis. It can be accessed here
Correlation European Harm Reduction has established a COVID-19 Resource Centre, which is available here.
The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Assistance has produced material regarding the COVID-19 situation and how it affects people who use drugs. This is available here.
The Harm Reduction Coalition has also produced material, available here.
The World Health Organisation has produced a range of resources. Of particular interest to our members and stakeholders is guidance provided on managing COVID-19 in prisons and detention centres. This is available here.
INHSU Prison’s committee member Matthew J. Akiyama has joined with other experts to share perspectives on the risks facing people in prisons in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine. This is available here.
World Prison Brief is compiling a list of news articles, guidance and other resources around COVID-19 and prisons. It can be accessed here.
The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons has provided updated guidance and information. This can be accessed here.
The Centre for Health of Incarcerated persons has released information that can be accessed here.
The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has released new interim guidance on the management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 that can be accessed here.
EDUCATION WEBINARS AND RESOURCES
Hard reduction services through the COVID-19 pandemic
Medicines de Monde, International Network of People Who Use Drugs, Harm Reduction International and the European Network of People Who Use Drugs, have come together to organise a webinar focusing on sharing experiences in how people are delivering harm reduction programmes through the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this webinar is to facilitate an interactive discussion and share experiences on how to maintain and adapt harm reduction services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will share a link for this as soon as it is available.
Coping with COVID-19L Insight from the front lines of HIV, hepatitis C and harm reduction (Canadian focus)
CATIE (Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange) has produced a webinar that provided insights into the issue in Canada with panel members who share their experiences of what their agencies and communities are doing. will also share the latest science on the risks for COVID-19 among people living with HIV, hepatitis C or people who use drugs.
We will continue to share information and resources as they become available. Please let us know if you have produced or become aware of resources to support the health of people who use drugs through the COVID-19 crisis. Please send to [email protected]
ADVOCACY FOR PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS AND THE ORGANISATIONS THAT SUPPORT THEM THROUGH COVID-19
Joint Statement In the time of COVID-19: Civil Society Statement on COVID-19 and People who use Drugs
INHSU has joined over 300 individuals and community civil society organisations to endorse a statement that highlights key issues urge the international community to take proactive and coordinated action to protect the health and human rights of people who use drugs in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The full statement can be accessed here. The information below is a summary of key issues and the call to action.
The issues: While COVID-19 infection does not discriminate, it does magnify existing social, economic and political inequities. We note that people who use drugs are particularly vulnerable due to criminalisation and stigma and often experience underlying health conditions, higher rates of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, as well as a lack of access to vital resources – putting them at greater risk of infection. The crisis must be an occasion to rethink the function of punishment, to reform the system and to work towards ending the war on drugs. If we are to ‘flatten the curve’, the health of the most marginalised in society must also be protected as an urgent priority. In times of crisis, uncertainty and upheaval it is imperative that human rights act as an anchor point. Careful and vigilant attention must be paid to non-discriminatory access to health care, human dignity and transparency.
What needs to happen to support people who use drugs during the COVID-19 Crisis? Recommendations include those that focus on:
- Protecting the right to health
- Ensuring safe supply
- Protecting the right to be free from arbitrary detention
- Protecting civil and political liberties
- Protecting community and civil society organisations
Other statements and advocacy tools
Correlation European Harm Reduction has joined with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association to produce a joint statement highlighting the importance of continuing harm reduction services during the crisis. This is available here.