From: “Guide Manual on Best Practices in the Field of Harm Reduction Programmes” Fondazione Villa Maraini Onlus

This publication inserts itself into a path started in the mid Seventies, when there were very few people in the world taking care of drugs and drug users’ health. Nonetheless, over the years the situation has improved thanks to numerous opportunities of meetings and discussions at local, regional and global level, and finally even the International Movement of Red Cross and Red Crescent has been taking more direct and decisive steps in favour of drug users, regarded as highly vulnerable individuals to take care of, and not as criminals to arrest or sinners to redeem. Scientific evidence helped us overcome prejudgment and neglect.

The most relevant steps of this path leading many National Societies to act “bridging the gap” between civil society and drug users were: the Resolution of International Conference (1986), the ten meetings of experts on drug within the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (today, International Federation); the two World Conferences in Malaga (Spain) and Sundvolden (Norway), the initiative of the Rome Consensus for a humanitarian drug policy, which led to the Manifesto signed by 121 National Societies, the birth of the European Network on HIV/AIDS and TB (ERNA) with its fourteen meetings, the publication of “Spreading the Light of Science” and finally the IFRC Report “Out of Harm’s way”, published on December 1st, 2010 over the occasion of the World AIDS Day, by which the IFRC takes official position in favour of Harm Reduction.

The European Project presented in the leaflet well inserts itself into a trend of growing interest from the Red Cross and Red Crescent towards drug users. Our gratefulness goes to all volunteers and staff members involved: the world of drug should be humanised and the Red Cross and Red Crescent is in the best position to do it – not only through practical actions of treatment and reintegration but also by advocacy interventions against stigma and discrimination.

Dr. Massimo Barra
Villa Maraini Founder