Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Needle exchange makes positive contribution



Needle exchange makes positive contribution

Needle exchange makes positive contribution

Dear Editor,

As long-time readers of The Phnom Penh Post, we write to share our concerns about a recent article “Locals say syringe handouts draw criminals” (September 28). The article reported on community concerns about a drop-in centre for drug users operated by Korsang, an internationally respected Cambodian NGO.

Regrettably, the article failed to mention the positive contributions also made by Korsang. Since 2004, Korsang has pioneered services to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug dependency in Cambodia. By courageously reaching out to drug users and sex workers on the streets where they live and work, Korsang has educated hundreds of people about HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, STDs and overdose prevention. They have literally saved lives through these services, and by offering people living on the street basic food, medical care, counselling and shelter that can help them to transition to more stable and healthy lives.

This lifesaving work has been documented in your own paper and has been recognised by the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, USAID and by dozens of NGOs around Asia who strive to emulate their success. In Bangkok this past April, Korsang was honoured with the Carol and Travis Jenkins Award from the International Harm Reduction Association.

The approach they use, “harm-reduction”, refers to science-based approaches to public health that aim to reach out to marginalised communities (drug users, sex workers and others) in order to reduce the harm that comes from their activities and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. It may be a relatively new approach to Cambodia, but harm-reduction has been proved to work in many other parts of Asia and in the rest of the world. Media coverage that highlights the sensational aspects without educating the public about the benefits of this approach only give ammunition to those who would prefer to see HIV/AIDS spread than save the lives of marginalised people.

Your reporter should have done a more thorough job of investigating the story and presenting a balanced view. We hope you will take this opportunity to deepen your understanding of the issues and educate the public.

Sara LM Davis
Executive Director
Asia Catalyst

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.