The Needle & Syringe Exchange Programme (NSEP) remains on the front line of the harm reduction approach to reduce HIV vulnerability among people who inject drugs. Introduced by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Malaysian AIDS Council in 2006, the NSEP broke new grounds in providing direct community-based health care services for people who inject drugs nationwide. Through 17 NSEP sites, more than 24,000 registered people who inject drugs were served in 2010, with over 300,000 NSEP kits containing fresh needles and syringes distributed.
Activities of the NSEP in Malaysia include:
- Exchanging used needles and syringes for sterile ones
- Safe disposal of used injecting materials
- Reaching out and educating PWID on HIV/AIDS and other related health issues
- Providing PWID with referrals, rehabilitation, health and welfare agencies
- Encouraging safer sex practices through education and condom distribution
- What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction refers to policies, programs and practices designed to reduce the harms associated with psychoactive drug use by individuals who are unable or unwilling to stop using it. That defines a specific aspect is the focus that emphasizes the prevention of harm from drug use prevention and focus on the drug user as an individual. (IHRA Briefing, Pg 1)
- What is NSEP?
NSEP is acronym of Needle Syringe Exchange Program. It reduces the risk of HIV infections and other infectious diseases associated with needle sharing among injection drug users.
- Malaysia approach related to NSEP
Malaysia adopted the approach in Drop In Centre (DIC) and Outreach Worker. Drop in Center providing:
a) Needle exchange
c) Light treatment
e) Rest place
Outreach workers are former drug users who have been trained to carry out the NSEP. They will go to “port” and do the work NSEP accordance with the Guidelines approved by the Ministry of Health
- The average age of clients who visited DIC.
For NSEP have guidelines that state that IDU under 18 years old cannot be visited DIC. They should refer to other agencies such as AADK. Client age is between 25-50 years.
- How many Outreach sites in Malaysia and where is located?
There are 17 Outreach Sites in all states except Sabah and Sarawak. All this outreach site maintained by the MAC partner organisations under. The locations are as follows:
a) Kedah (Cahaya Harapan)
- Alor Setar
- Sungai Petani
b) Penang (AIDS Action Research Group)
- Seberang Prai
c) Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
a) Chow Kit (IKHLAS)
d) Selangor (Insaf Murni)
e) Melaka (Kelab Rakan Melaka)
- Alor Gajah
f) Kelantan (SAHABAT)
- Kota Bharu
- Pasir Mas
g) Terengganu (CAKNA)
- Kuala Terengganu
h) Pahang (Drug Intervention Community)
i) Johor(Intan Life Zone)
- Johor Bharu
- What is Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT)
MMT is a drug replacement therapy using methadone as a means of reducing drug injecting activity.
- The extent to which MMT managed to reduce the harm?
- Drug users not feel high when using it.
- Reduce drug related crime
- Reduce the desire to inject
- Provide opportunities for IDUs to recover and return to work
- Is it against the law if we have/carry more than three packets of condoms?
There are no legal provisions on condom. However, condom can be used as evidence of the circumstances (circumstantial evidence) if arrested the alleged solicitation for sexual purposes. (Soliciting sex)
- Does NSEP contribute to the increase in the number of drug addicts in Malaysia?
There is no evidence to support this statement. In fact, in many studies done, NSEP actually reduce the rate of injection drug users because of the referral services.
“The implementation of the Harm Reduction programme through Methadone Maintenance Therapy and Needle & Syringe Exchange Programme has shown positive results, with many kicking drug addiction and leading a quality life. The success of the two programmes reflects the spirit of smart partnership and commitment between the government and private and non-government organisations in reducing the numbers of Malaysians hooked on drugs.” Datuk Seri Dr Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Health (Source: New Straits Times, 22 Feb 2010).