The Uganda Harm Reduction Principles

PRAGMATISM – Uganda Harm reduction Network recognizes that drug use is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors from abstinence to  chronic dependence and produces varying degrees of social harm.  Harm reduction accepts that the non- medical use of psychoactive or mood altering substances is a universal phenomenon. It acknowledges that, while carrying risks, drug use also provides the user and society with benefits that must be taken into account.

HUMAN RIGHTS -Uganda Harm reduction Network respects the basic human dignity and rights of people who use drugs.  It accepts the drug user’s decision to use drug and no judgment is made either to condemn or support the use of drugs.  Harm reduction acknowledges an individual drug user’s right to self-determination and supports informed decision making in the context of active drug use.        Emphasis    is    placed    on    personal    choice,    responsibility    and    management.

FOCUS ON HARMS – The fact or extent of an individual’s drug use is secondary to the harms from drug use. The priority is to decrease the negative consequences of drug use to the user and others, rather than decrease drug use itself.  While harm reduction emphasizes a change to safer practices and patterns of drug use, it recognizes the need for strategies at all stages along the continuum of drug use.

MAXIMIZE INTERVENTION OPTIONS – Uganda Harm reduction Network recognizes that people who use drugs benefit from a variety of different approaches. There is no one prevention or treatment approach that works reliably for everyone.  It is providing options and prompt access to a broad range of interventions that helps keep people alive and safe.   Individuals and communities affected by drug use need to be involved in the creation of effective harm reduction strategies.

PRIORITY OF IMMEDIATE GOALS – Uganda Harm reduction network starts with “where the person is” in their drug use, with the immediate focus on the most pressing needs. It establishes a hierarchy of achievable interventions that taken one at a time can lead to a fuller, healthier life for drug users and a safer, healthier community.   Harm reduction is based on the importance of incremental gains that can be built on over time.

DRUG USER INVOLVEMENT –Uganda Harm reduction Network acknowledges that people who use drugs are the best source for information about their own drug use, and need to be empowered to join the service providers to determine the best interventions to reduce harms from drug use.   Uganda Harm reduction network recognizes the competency of drug users to make choices and change their lives. The active participation of drug users is at the heart of harm reduction.


Uganda Harm Reduction Network (UHRN) is a Community Based Organisation, established in 2011, Reg No. WCBO/1253/11, found by former drug users, to provide a national platform and reduce the health, social and economic harms associated with “drug use”. We further seek to develop an enabling environment for the implementation and expansion of human right interventions for Drug Users (IDUs, Sex Workers and Youth) in Uganda in partnerships with other stakeholders as we strive for victory. Vision: “A Ugandan society that reorganizes and protects the health, social, economic and human rights of drug users”. Mission: “To reduce the health, social and economic harms associated with drug use to develop an enabling environment for the implementation and expansion of human right interventions for drug users in Uganda. Objectives: We work to: • Promote access to cancer screening, psychosocial support and comprehensive care (HIV, SRHR, TB, and Hepatitis B and C treatment). • Organize and equip drug users whose rights have been violated to take responsibility of their health, social, economic wellbeing and sustainability through economic empowerment trainings and functional adult literacy programmes. • Document and expose human rights violations against drug users and call for legal protection and engage in policy reforms on laws that negatively impact on drug users. • Build partnership, synergy and develop the leadership capacity of drug users to take charge of their program. • Promote the health, social economic and human rights of “drug users” in Uganda irrespective of their social, economic, academic, cultural or political background. • Promote safer sex education such as condom use, needle and syringe exchange program, comprehensive care and mechanism on how to deal with issues of overdose, trafficking and violence against drug users. • Call for an enabling environment and strengthen partnerships towards “drug users”. Core values for UHRN: The driving forces that guide all actions and practices in UHRN are:- • Social justice, protection and recognition in society • Love and respect for one another. • Support and care for one another • Honesty in all our undertakings • Empathy for each other as drug users • Sharing the available resources.


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