Funding for Harm Reduction in Malaysia
Funding for demand-reduction programmes is limited. Funding for harm-reduction programmes is almost non-existent. I guess the handful of harm reductionists would agree with me that the issue of drugs needs to be parked under HIV/AIDS before we can see any funding. That's the situation in Malaysia.
However the issues of harm reduction is not solely about HIV/AIDS, there are many other concerns for a drug user such as mental health, Hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and the issue of decrimilising of drug use, among other things. Will Malaysian funding agencies allocate financial and technical assistance for these concerns?
Unfortunately no, unless you're in the mood to sleep with the different personalities within the funding bodies to facilitate the interest of allocation. Otherwise, we'll continue to see more programmes for HIV/AIDS and injecting users.
There is still a negative and stigmatising perception of drug users in Malaysia, whether they are Malaysians, tourists, refugees or migrant workers. Society looks down upon this group, NGOs hesitate for some odd reasons to conduct harm reduction programmes in rural areas and funding agencies are more eager for publicity of their "Anti-Drug" campaigns. And what about corporations and their abundant of fundings? Well, they are more interesting in yearly donations to orphans or building libraries in the middle of nowhere.
In the mean time, drug users will continue to suffer the stigma, the prejudice and the discrimination of power-hungry NGOs, publicity-driven government agencies and self-righteous individuals. That's the life of a drug user in Malaysia.