UHRN definition of Harm Reduction

The term “harm reduction” refers to policies, programmes and projects which aim to reduce the health, social and economic harms associated with the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs without necessarily reducing drug consumption. It is an evidence-based and cost-effective approach – bringing benefits to drug users, their families and the community. Harm reduction is a targeted approach that focuses on specific harms. It requires that politicians, policymakers, communities, researchers and frontline workers ask two questions: What specifically are the harms associated with different psychoactive drugs? And what can be done to reduce the risk of those harms occurring?

People have always used drugs, engaged in drug use and will always use drugs as such there will never be a drug-free society.   But harm reduction accepts that some people who use drugs are often unable or unwilling to stop, and seeks to provide care, support and resources in a non-judgmental environment.  The most humane, compassionate and effective approach is therefore to attempt to alleviate the worst of the harms associated with drug use.

Harm reduction promotes safer use and options that help to minimise the risks from drug use and of causing harm to themselves or others, without requiring the cessation of use. It is a pragmatic approach that is based in “public health” and “human rights”. There is a large and ever growing body of evidence that demonstrates harm reduction as an effective approach for preventing drug related harms including HIV, STI/STDs, TB, Hepatitis B and C, and overdose. In addition to individual benefits, harm reduction interventions also benefit the community, for example by reducing crime.


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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