Addiction Services Are Essential

In the light of today’s health crisis, Dianova deems it crucial that addiction services be on par with other healthcare services

Addiction services are essential services

Starting from June 16, Dianova launches an international advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the necessity to consider addiction services as essential services – One of the campaign’s images

Press release

Barcelona, 15 June 2020 – The unexpected irruption of Covid-19 has revealed numerous dysfunctions in our health and care systems. Sadly, these dysfunctions have primarily been affecting those most vulnerable, and among them people who use drugs.

As emphasized in a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, people who use drugs face additional risks of infection by Covid-19 as compared to the general population, because of lifestyle factors and pre-existing health problems. In addition, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health pointed out that, in the current Covid-19 context, people who use drugs face specific needs, due to criminalization, stigma, discrimination, social marginalization and higher economic and social vulnerabilities, including a lack of access to adequate housing and healthcare.

Substance use disorders are life-threatening conditions and addiction prevention, treatment, reintegration and harm reduction services, are needed more than ever. In the midst of a crisis of this proportion, the Dianova network’s addiction counsellors and other staff have, as most addiction professionals, carried on with their mission and daily tasks dutifully. Dianova’s therapeutic communities and other addiction services healthcare facilities have taken very strict precautions to keep their beneficiaries and staff safe.

Yet, in many countries, authorities have been able to give addiction services only very little support. Health systems initially thought of as solid have been unable to provide these professionals with basic personal protection equipment or financial support to buy them. Be that as it may, our addiction professionals have been carrying out their duties with intellect and integrity despite these difficult and often dangerous circumstances, providing vulnerable people with appropriate counselling and support. They kept on working.

In order to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, on June 26, Dianova would also like to pay warm tribute to the hard work, dedication, and innovative attitudes of all addiction professionals in these times of doubt and emergency.

Starting from June 16, Dianova launches an international advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the necessity that addiction services be on par with other health services and that they be given similar levels of attention and support. Should another crisis of this nature arise, addiction services shouldn’t be the poor relation of the public health system any longer. Substance use and other addictive disorders are a matter of public health and addiction services should therefore be considered as essential. This campaign will target decision makers, health professionals, the media, and the general public.

The campaign’s motto, “When everything is on pause, some of us must go on”, will be a reminder that all healthcare workers have been exemplary in their handling of the pandemic, including professionals in addiction services healthcare facilities. Just one among many lessons, this pandemic is teaching us the pressing need to reaffirm and uphold the universal Right to Health, leaving no one behind.

Substance use and other addictive disorders are a public health issue – Addiction Services are essential

About Dianova

Dianova International is an international network of NGOs operating in 19 countries of the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, working in the health and social sectors. One of the Dianova network’s main areas of activity is the provision of addiction treatment and prevention services, not only at grassroots level – we operate 30 outpatient and residential facilities – but also at the advocacy level, defending vulnerable people’s rights to health, equality and social integration through interventions in international organizations and forums.

Principal Affiliations

Dianova International has Special Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), it is a registered civil society organization to the Organization of American States (OAS) and an official partner of UNESCO.  Dianova is also a member of the European Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD), the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities (WFTC), the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationships with the United Nations (CoNGO),  and is an operational partner of the NGO Major Group.

For additional information, please contact