With millions of deaths and hundreds of millions infected worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health crisis of our time. All sectors of society are challenged by the pandemic and are adapting to the severe but necessary restrictions in movement and physical contact.

Huge efforts have been made to keep essential services running for people with substance use disorders, pushing frontline workers from health and social services to their limits. Every day, they stand up for a group of the most vulnerable people in society: people whose drug dependence often goes hand-in-hand with social and health grievances, such as HIV and hepatitis infection, unemployment or homelessness.

The Pompidou Group continues to support its member states in meeting the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic for drug policy related services, by giving a voice to people with substance use disorders and professionals who work with them and fighting for the protection of their human rights.

Publication ‘Covid-19 and people who use drugs’


This publication from March 2021 presents experiences and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic by frontline workers and people who use drugs. It builds on practice examples from 21 countries submitted on the Pompidou Group’s Save Lives - Protect People platform.

The interviews, articles and reports in the publication showcase valuable experiences and approaches to fight the pandemic across countries, seen through the eyes of experts, frontline workers delivering services under challenging conditions of a COVID-19 outbreak and the people who benefit from those services. This makes the publication a valuable source of information for drug treatment and harm reduction professionals, researchers and policy makers for understanding the impact of the pandemic on this often underserved and marginalised group, the daily fight of health and social workers and the support they need to overcome the unprecedented crisis linked to the pandemic.

Online platform ‘Save Lives – Protect People’


In April 2020, shortly after the Covid-19 outbreak in Europe, the Pompidou Group launched an online platform to offer a forum for frontline workers and policy makers on exchanging experiences in meeting the urgent needs of people with substance use disorders arising from the pandemic.

The platform offers concrete examples of practices that are aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of the COVID-19 crisis and associated restrictions for the people who use drugs as well as those who are in contact with them. Its purpose is to help deciding on actions at policy and practice level that are aimed at providing harm and risk reduction measures and delivering drug treatment and rehabilitation services under the current restrictions evoked by the COVID-19 pandemic and with available resources.

Videos, photos and short summaries presenting lived experiences were submitted online and are displayed in one of the six languages of the platform: English, French, Russian, Italian, German and Spanish.

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