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USA: Moroccan scientists present the book “Harm Reduction Manifesto” for a healthier approach to health care

A group of Moroccan and international scientists calls on governments to change their approach to health care through the publication “Harm Reduction, the Manifesto”, a book co-authored by professors, journalists and doctors, under the direction of Dr Imane Kendili .

The Washington Times organized this Wednesday, January 26 a round table for the 26 writers and contributors to “Harm Reduction, the Manifesto”. The publication was conceived under the direction of Moroccan writer and journalist Abdelhak Najib, Dr Imane Kendili and Professor Jallal Toufiq, which will be released on January 26 in Washington in the United States. The discussion brought together experts from climate restoration, public health, law enforcement and abuse prevention. Harm reduction is not a new concept, having first emerged in the 1970s as an effort to limit sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections from injection drug use.

In this sense, Dr. Kendil spoke about the harmful effects of tobacco and praised the efforts of Morocco which “was avant-garde about fifteen years ago with heroin addicts, injection drug users, there were injection kits distributed, methadone entered the Centers, and today the care is like groups of developed countries taking care of things properly”. “We must therefore do prevention, we must absolutely educate young people not to start smoking, but we must take care of adults, and people who are heavy smokers and who cannot stop”she said.

According to the expert, we must think about substitute products and have an open mind, because the best thing to do is to be able to improve the health of citizens as we were able to do during the pandemic with the reduction of risks in terms of Covid , like wearing a mask, distancing, or vaccination. It is also a risk reduction policy”.

Regarding governments that do not always have large budgets for public health, Kendili argues that “by involving all individuals in a system of prevention and risk reduction, and by generalizing the concept of patient citizens, a burden will be lifted off the shoulders of governments, and will allow better management of public health care”.

The doctor went on to explain that “the pandemic has demonstrated the power of harm reduction around the world.” “Preventive measures imposed around the world such as masks, vaccination, curfews, quarantine and social distancing have helped countries overcome the biggest threats” of the pandemic, she notes.

According to the Moroccan doctor, “the logistics of health care are made easier if people practice risk reduction”. The latter is particularly relevant for countries with low health care budgets. Risk reduction becomes “more effective than the treatment of chronic diseases and prohibition”because the strategy takes human nature into account.

The people “will take drugs, consume white sugar, smoke tobacco and have unprotected sex despite all the health risks, which renders all efforts of criminalization useless, both for society and for the health sector »she continues.

But experts who contributed to the manifesto say harm reduction isn’t just about health, as it touches on environmental issues, crime and the economy.

Through harm reduction, policy makers can decriminalize drugs or provide a “safe supply” for addicts, so they don’t die from illicit drugs or get sick from sharing needles and paraphernalia, which taxpayers do not bear the costs of incarceration and that police and bystanders are not put at risk in drug raids.

“While the intentions of governments here and abroad may be noble in the fight against drug use and other risky behaviors, the first point of action should be a realization that quick fixes do not do not exist », said Mazen Saleh, Policy Director for Integrated Risk Reduction. At the R Street Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

Harm reduction policies tend to be politically polarizing, as those responsible“don’t want to be labeled as soft on crime” or seem to tolerate drug use.

“All-or-nothing tactics and banning risky behavior don’t work, so it’s time to focus on holistic approaches that reduce risk and save lives”the panelists said.

“We will never eliminate substance use disorders. We will never eliminate crime. Our role as policy makers is to implement policies that mitigate harms not just for individuals, but for all of our communities”said retired California police lieutenant Diane Goldstein, executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

People use harm reduction tactics every day, like wearing a seatbelt or calling a cab if they’ve had a few drinks and shouldn’t be driving.

In the policy arena, harm reduction efforts typically focus on reducing the harm associated with drug use or sex. Dr Imane Kendili said policy makers should “stop fighting” and realizing that people will always engage in risky behaviors, eventually moving on to“better management” of the biggest bottlenecks in health care, criminal justice and the climate crisis.

This interactive meeting was also an opportunity to give a broad overview of the book “Harm Reduction -The Manifesto”, edited by Abdelhak Najib and Dr Imane Kendili. This collective work summarizes the work of 26 experts from 9 countries, covering various fields of expertise, ranging from public health to social anthropology, including different medical disciplines, philosophy, sociology, as well as macroeconomic analysis. .




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