by Phumlani Malinga
Media advocacy is one tool that SANPUD employs to advocate for the rights of people who use drugs. Getting our activities covered as widely as possible ensures that we make information about people who use drugs available to the wider community to both change their minds about and motivate them to act on behalf of street based people who use drugs.
Our research and participation in international, national and local conversations about people who use drugs is an opportunity for us to keep people who use drugs in the public eye through having these covered widely in the media.
There is a global transition occurring in the production and distribution of methamphetamine in southern and eastern Africa. Globally, methamphetamine production volumes have been breaking records, market penetration has expanded and diversified, and its unit production cost and price have decreased. Centres of mass production have moved beyond the traditional ‘Golden Triangle’ and Mexican cartel territories, with new footholds being established in Europe, South Asia and Africa.
On March 8th this year, International Women’s Day was celebrated across the globe. Closer to home here in South Africa, our SANPUD team and partner organisations engaged in a range of activities in three cities which set out to deliver healthcare services free of charge to female members of the People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) community.
The Cervical Screening Package service provided was offered in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, and consisted of pap smears (ie: cervical HPV screening), HIV testing and counseling, primary healthcare screening and family planning. The reason for offering these services is that these members of our community are often stigmatised or face prejudice from healthcare professionals on the basis of the lives that they lead. Offering a safe and non-judgemental space for these women, and one at which neither their life choices nor their frequency of sexual activity would be criticised was a primary driver for the SANPUD team as they embarked on a programme of informing these community members of the availability of the Cervical Screening Package.
Below are summaries of each of the days’ activities at each of the three locations.