Heroin use has increased enormously in Tanzania and other East African countries in recent years. All along the trafficking routes from Afghanistan to the Western world, the overseas supply of heroin is high. On the ground level, people cope with infection diseases, overdose and police brutality.

Heroin in Dar es Salaam
In 2019, Mainline partnered up with local organisation Mukikute to build better health services for this vulnerable group of people. ‘Two weeks ago, we visited Mukikute in Dar es Salaam,’ says country manager Guido van Diepen from Mainline. ‘We were astonished by the great work they do. They do outreach in very crowded hotspots and have a great network of peer educators. They do wound care, HIV testing, group support and have a great referral network.’

Societal change in Tanzania
The harm reduction site in Temeke district in Dar es Salaam was originally founded by Médecins du Monde. This French NGO established a comprehensive set of harm reduction services over the years and their work has recently been carried over to Mukikute. Mainline supports Mukikute with their harm reduction work, in sync with the Global Fund and Médecins du Monde. ‘Recently, the societal perception among Tanzanians towards people using drugs has changed,’ says manager Robert Okola from Mukikute. ‘A sense that drug use should be encountered from a health care perspective instead of a justice perspective has grown. Besides demand reduction and supply reduction, government officials speak more about the benefits of harm reduction.’

Scale-up NSP
Because of this pragmatic policy shift, Mukikute can run a needle and syringe exchange programme (NSP) as a pilot. ‘Mukikute is the only organisation that offers NSP in Tanzania,’ says Guido van Diepen. ‘It would be a huge step forward if the project could be scaled up throughout all the hotspots in the country. NSP has proved to be very effective in reducing infectious diseases all over the world. 

'Right now, Mukikute is the only organisation that offers a Needle and Syringe Programme (NSP) in Tanzania,’ says Guido van Diepen. Together, we strive to build a case to show that harm reduction works, including in Tanzania’.

Read more about Mukikute

Mainline facilitated a knowledge-exchange between MEWA in Kenya and Mukikute in Tanzania.

Read more about this knowledge exchange.

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