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Dec 18, 2007

Executive Programme Committee Meet in Barcelona (IHRA communication)

Stephane Ibanez de Benito (UK, INHRN)
and Mukta Sharma (India, IHRA Chair)

In December 2007 (10-13), the Executive Programme Committee for Harm Reduction 2008: IHRA’s 19th International Conference met in Barcelona in order to finalise the programme from the 1,200 abstracts received. The ‘Marathon Meeting’ lasted for three days and has resulted in a packed programme including over 60 sessions covering a huge range of topics. The meeting was hosted by the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Martin Donoghoe (WHO) prepared "the executive program marathon shrine"

Nice booty Martin!

The Executive Programme Committee (EPC) is a group of 10-15 harm reduction experts from around the world whose role is to create and guide the conference programme. The group is chaired by Professor Gerry Stimson (IHRA’s Executive Director), and this year it includes members with a wide range of specialties from the UK, France, Spain, Brazil, Belgium, Australia and India.

Xavier Major and Gerry Stimson

The whole process of creating the programme is also supported by an International Programme Advisory Group (100-or-so individuals from around the world who help to review the abstracts) and various key international organizations.

The full programme will be available to view early in 2008 (once abstract authors have been contacted and have confirmed their participation). The preliminary programme (which is subject to changes) includes:

  • Numerous Satellite Sessions on Sunday 11th May.

  • An Opening Session on Sunday 11th May - including the 2008 Rolleston Oration from Professor Paul Hunt (the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health) – followed by an opening reception.

  • A focus on Global Issues on Monday 12th May – with a ‘Plenary Session’ on the global state of harm reduction followed by a ‘Double Concurrent’ from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,

  • World Health Organization, and the Centre for Disease Control.

  • A secondary focus on Hepatitis C on Monday 12th May, in order to build up to World Hepatitis Awareness Day a week later.

  • A focus on Gender Issues on Tuesday 13th May, with a ‘Plenary Session’, ‘Major Session’ and ‘Concurrent Session’.

  • A focus on Criminal Justice and Human Rights on Wednesday 14th May, , with a ‘Plenary Session’, ‘Major Session’ and ‘Concurrent Session’.

  • A conference party on the evening of Wednesday 14th May.

  • Three ‘Major Sessions’ on Thursday 15th May, followed by the Closing Session – including the 2008 IHRA Awards.

In addition to the these, there will be ‘Six O’clock Shows’ discussing topics such as new technologies in harm reduction, Ibogaine, drug user activism and drug consumption rooms. There will also be a full Film Festival programme, and over 50 ‘Major Sessions’, ‘Concurrent Sessions’ and ‘Living Room Sessions’ covering a massive range of topics, including:

• Alcohol Harm Reduction

• Tobacco Harm Reduction

• Sex Workers

• Young People

• Hidden Harms

• Evidence and Research

• Drug Treatment

• HIV and Anti-Retroviral Therapies

• Harm Reduction Training and Education

As this conference is taking place in Barcelona, there will also be a focus on harm reduction services, approaches and debates in Spain and Latin America. All of the conference’s ‘Plenary Sessions’ and ‘Major Sessions’ will be translated into Spanish, as well as six ‘Concurrent Sessions’ each afternoon and the opening and closing sessions. French translation will also be available for some of the sessions, and further languages may be added depending on funding.

In addition to these oral presentations, there will also be over 400 ‘Poster’ presentations in Barcelona, allowing people from around the world to promote, present and discuss their work, research and approaches. These ‘Poster’ presentations are an essential part of the conference, allowing as many people as possible to share their experiences, findings and/or best practice.

Overall, the conference will provide a packed programme with sessions to interest a huge range of delegates from around the world. More information will be available early in 2008.

Jamie Bridge

IHRA Communications Officer



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