Harm Reduction International launches report on Harm Reduction Funding Crisis

By June 26, 2024 Newsroom

The new report The Cost of Complacency: A Harm Reduction Funding Crisislaunched at the UNAIDS 54th Programme Coordinating Board Meeting, along with cosponsoring organisations UNAIDS, WHO, UNODC, EHRA, INPUD, MENAHRA, and EuroNPUD. 

This report explores the state of harm reduction funding in low- and middle-income countries, drawing upon existing public data on domestic funding and information collected from harm reduction donors. The data shows that we are still far from meeting the needs of people who use drugs. Funding is just 6% of the US$2.7 billion that UNAIDS estimates is needed annually by 2025 for an effective response. Harm reduction has a 94% funding shortfall, while there is a funding gap of 29% for the overall HIV response. The Global AIDS Strategy highlighted the need for an ‘intensified harm reduction response’ but high-level political commitments have not yet resulted in greater investments in harm reduction. 

The report emphasises the urgent need for substantial increases in harm reduction investments from both international donors and domestic sources. It points to the importance of funding advocacy to help drive the drug law and policy reform required for sustainable harm reduction responses. It calls for investments in community-led organisations to create and protect resilient and sustainable responses and for support to governments to establish the financing mechanisms required for domestic funding of harm reduction. It highlights that harm reduction should be viewed more broadly than disease prevention and for governments and donors to divest from punitive drug responses and invest in community, health and justice. 

Among the other findings:

  • Where donor and domestic investments were almost equal shares in 2019, donor funding accounted for 67% (USD 101.6 million) of the total funding identified in 2022.
  • The number of donors investing remains low. The Global Fund remains the largest donor for harm reduction; accounting for almost three-quarters of all donor funding for harm reduction in 2022. 
  • There has been a reduction in support from key donors that have provided important funding for advocacy, legal and policy reform, human rights and community strengthening.
  • There has been a decrease in identified domestic funding for harm reduction. In 2019, we found USD 63.2 million across 38 countries and in 2022, we identified USD 49.7 million across 27 countries.
  • There is little evidence of sustainable domestic harm reduction responses particularly following donor withdrawal. 
  • Community-led responses are effective but there is currently no way to hold donors accountable on funding for community-led organisations. 

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