Barcelona, Spain, June 2018 – Consortium members of Efus’ Solidify project on Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities (SDCFs) gathered in Barcelona on 21-22 June for a two-day visit about the city’s drug action plan and its integrated model on drug consumption facilities, which offers a wide variety of high quality services to drug users.
The visit was hosted by Carme Borrell, Deputy Director, and Oleguer Parés-Badell, Public Health Physician at the Public Health Agency of Barcelona, an institution co-financed by the city and the Catalan region that is in charge of a wide range of health-related services, and co-organised with the NGO Asociación bienestar y desarrollo (ABD). The agency and its partners operate Drug Addiction Centres – of which eight spread throughout the city are integrated (harm reduction and treatment) and seven provide only treatment –, which are generally well accepted by the population. Important principles for service provision are: low threshold, open doors, and establishing contact with users to help them access services step by step and in accordance with their needs.
Discussions with local partners on how to improve acceptance among locals
The project partners had the opportunity to visit the drug consumption facility “CAS Baluard”, which provides a safe environment for injecting and smoking, and provides users with access to health and other support services. The centre also has a mobile unit that caters to users in remote areas and outside of the opening hours of institutionalised services. Moreover, the visit included discussions with representatives from local authorities and law enforcement agencies on the local partnerships organised to improve acceptance of the facilities by the local population and to regulate conflicts that may surface among users and other groups.
The Barcelona/Catalan model as a benchmark for other local authorities
Barcelona’s integrated model of SDCFs, which have been established as part of a local Drug Plan that is periodically renewed and backed by all the political parties represented at the City Council, is an inspiring practice. Indeed, it can be considered as a model that can provide guidance and knowledge for other municipalities seeking to reinforce their local harm reduction strategies.
The Solidify European project gathers a group of ten cities that exchange and support each other on the installation of Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities and overall harm reduction and drug strategies. It organises study visits and audits across Europe and will hold a final conference in cooperation with the city of Lisbon (PT) and the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addictions (EMCDDA).