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Vietnam’s policing in harm reduction: Has one decade seen changes in drug control?

Hai Thanh Luong, Toan Quang Le, Dung Tien Lam, Bac Gia Ngo


Alongside raising awareness and creating activities to develop a harm-reduction approach in the HIV/AIDS campaign since the end of the 2000s, broader harm-reduction interventions in Vietnam were also deployed that included several positive steps. Police forces, a fundamental sector in reducing the supply of illicit drugs, were also involved, partly to concretize this approach. As the first paper to examine the role of police in harm-reduction interventions in Vietnam, the current study utilizes qualitative approaches relying on in-depth interviews conducted with multiple key informants from government and its related bodies, United Nations personnel, and non-government organizations (NGOs), as well as police officers. We uncover noticeable progress in changing minds and approaches to apply harm reduction in drug policy, particularly within policing. However, major barriers in regulations, slow acceptance by police forces, and a lack of curriculum and courses in police training have limited harm-reduction approaches. As the first study to review and assess the policy of harm reduction after one decade, the paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the nature of Vietnam’s police provisions to balance and improve harm reduction in drug control.


Harm reduction; law enforcement; policing; decriminalization of drug use; Vietnam

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ISSN: 2371-4298 (Online)