Massimo Barra born in Rome in 1947, graduated with honors in medicine in 1972, had two great priorities in his life for which he spent all of himself: The Red Cross and the recovery of people with drug disorders. He founded in 1976 the Villa Maraini Drug Recovery Center, becoming one of the leading expert on drug and public health strategies worldwide.
Over more than 40 years, the Centre radically increased its activities and services, becoming a reference organization in the field of substance abuse treatment as well as in the promotion of humanitarian drug policies for Red Cross Societies and for CSOs too. Nowadays, provides a wide range of therapies and services to around 600 drug users per day.
Barra is the author of hundreds of articles, speeches and publications on harm reduction, rehabilitation strategies and humanitarian drug policies promoted along all these years of commitment in the field. The main strategy of intervention of Dr. Barra consists of adapting the therapy to the subject and not vice versa.
He was the first in the world to promote the use of Naloxone by non-medical staff for overdose emergencies. Thanks to this approach, over 2,500 patients have been saved in the streets of Rome that were about to die for overdose.
He repeatedly intervened in institutional fora at the UN (New York, Geneva and Vienna), the Council of Europe, the EU, Italian and Brazilian Parliaments. He was a member of the Board of the Global Fund on Hiv, Tb and Malaria. Barra joined the Red Cross at the age of 8, he has assumed many functions up to the highest levels in Italy (National President) and at the international level (President of the Standing Commission of the RCRC and Vice President of the IFRC).
He participated in humanitarian and institutional missions during major emergencies in peace and war times, in over 120 countries. He is currently Chairman of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Partnership on Substance Abuse, President of the European RCRC network for HIV, hepatitis and drugs, Co-Chair of the Rome Consensus humanitarian drug policy initiative. Since 2019 he is the Special Envoy on Health of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.