Film Festival team with Miss Lebanon Rahaf Abdulla. Photo courtesy of the International Harm Reduction Association.
Five Burnet Institute staff were amongst the 800 researchers, policy-makers, services providers and advocates from 80 countries at the Conference which focussed on ‘Building capacity, redressing neglect’.
Our researchers presented their work in a range of posters and oral presentations; Dr Peter Higgs and Danielle Horyniak presented research on understanding and reducing the impact of hepatitis C infection among injecting drug users, while PhD student Brendan Quinn explored correlates of incarceration among a cohort of community-recruited injectors and Professor Robert Power highlighted the issue of alcohol-related violence in the Pacific.
In collaboration with the World Health Organization’s Gary Reid, Burnet’s Peter Higgs, Chad Hughes and Danielle Horyniak also coordinated the MTV International Drugs and Harm Reduction Film Festival, which ran as a parallel stream within the conference.
More than 30 films from all over the world were screened, with highlights including a series of cartoons about safe party drug use, several documentaries on global drug policy and the inspirational story of a Spanish soccer league for those living on the margins of society.
All of the film sessions drew large crowds, with full houses at several sessions proving that the film stream is a popular and integral part of the conference. A public screening held at a local cinema prior to the conference was also a great success, attended by many well-known Lebanese, including media personality and host of the Arabic version of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ George Kordahi and Miss Lebanon Rahaf Abdulla.
Despite concerns of political unrest in the lead up to the event, the conference was considered by the Burnet staff an overwhelming success.
Key topics discussed included:
- the role of youth in drug policy development
- responding to the needs of women injectors, and
- developing programs for community-based overdose prevention.
Highlights included an inspirational closing address by keynote presenter Dr Donya Aziz on HIV and women’s rights in Pakistan, and the launch of the Beirut Declaration, a call for action on HIV-related harm reduction recognising the rights of people who inject drugs.
In the lead-in to the 2012 conference in Adelaide, Burnet will continue to discuss, debate and advocate for harm reduction through its innovative programs and research projects underway in the Centre for Population Health and Centre for International Health.