The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health last week (9th March) held a meeting considering harm reduction, drug policy and hepatitis C, organised by The Hepatitis C Trust as the group’s secretariat.
The meeting featured contributions from Jeff Smith MP, co-founder of the Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform, and Crispin Blunt MP, Chair of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group. Both MPs highlighted the need for an evidence-based approach to drug policy, with the emphasis of drug policy placed on health and harm reduction, rather than criminal justice.
Following this, Graham Parsons, Chief Pharmacist and Hepatitis C Lead for substance use service provider Turning Point delievered a presentation on harm reduction. Graham explained that harm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim to minimise negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws.
Evidence-based interventions like opioid substitution therapy (OST) and needle and syringe programmes have been shown to reduce hepatitis C and HIV infections, alongside myriad other benefits to individuals using drugs. However, harm reduction services have been heavily impacted in recent years due to funding cuts and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The full minutes of the meeting can be accessed on the APPG on Liver Health website here.
Later in the week, APPG on Liver Health Co-Chair Sir David Amess used a debate in the House of Commons on community pharmacies to highlight the need for increased testing and treatment for hepatitis C in community settings. You can read a transcript of his contribution here.