Harm Reduction Rise and Fall. The Lessons Learned from the Greek Experience, Challenges and Recommendations
Greece represent a unique case for investigating harm reduction policy since the unprecedented economic recession and the radical austerity programs coupled with the auxiliary effects of an unstable, punitive political environment created social challenges within which norms and community cohesion were undermined. The period 2010 to 2015 is of particular importance in Greece since the incremental devaluation of the social protection mechanisms, fragmentation of the NHS and absence of policy planning, narrowed vision reforms were implemented withholding resources from essential health and harm reduction services, while they were facing increasing demand.
This study is part of a larger project investigating harm reduction investment at the EU. A qualitative follow up study was utilised to explore and provide additional insight of the precipitating factors of the HIV epidemic in Greece through the subjective interpretation of the key stakeholders at the time of the crisis. Triangulating data collection tools an explanatory sequential design was adopted in order to incorporate the experience and the views of those affected by the policies and in order to provide additional insight and to build upon the initial HRI quantitative results.
Findings indicate that failure to disentangle policy harms is a major obstacle for the development of more effective evidence-based policy responses and sustainable harm reduction funding.