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Evidence to Impact: Powering Effective Drug Policy with Data Collection and Research

In the framework of World Drug Day and the presentation of the 2024 Annual Report, a special event was held at the CND in Vienna on June 26, 2024. Representing the Villa Maraini Foundation – Italian Red Cross and the Rome Consensus 2.0, Mauro Patti delivered a keynote speech highlighting the importance of a humanitarian approach to drug policies and the relevance of data collection and research for their effectiveness.

A Call to Humanitarian Action

Patti acknowledged that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires significant improvements, particularly in access to treatment and enhancing the continuum of care for people with drug use disorders. This includes integrating fair, ethical, and person-centered therapies from the first contact on the streets to complete recovery.

The Humanitarian Mission

The Villa Maraini Foundation, along with the Rome Consensus 2.0 alliance, promotes a global humanitarian approach to meet international commitments. This approach is implemented in health, prevention, and criminal justice, advocating for deflection and alternatives to incarceration. The mission is to ensure that people in need receive ethical, evidence-based, and compassionate care, improving their well-being, reducing crime rates and overdose deaths, and saving public funds.

An Evidence-Based Approach

Villa Maraini, founded by Massimo Barra in Rome in 1976, has pioneered evidence-based practices, such as early intervention for overdose cases on the streets in the 1990s. This approach saved over 3,000 lives in Rome alone and promoted harm reduction programs as the first step in the continuum of care. Currently, the foundation serves over 700 clients daily, providing 10 distinct health and social services under one roof and engaging in prevention and sensitization activities through Red Cross volunteers.

Impact and Continuous Improvement

The extensive field experience has enabled Villa Maraini to produce the necessary evidence to impact and improve people’s health conditions. This evidence is crucial in the discussion and should guide the drug policies of Member States. The holistic approach ensures that each individual receives the support they need at every stage of their recovery journey. By continuing to champion these ethical methods, a more humane and effective response to drug use can be created, addressing the gaps highlighted in the Annual Report.

Mauro Patti’s speech not only emphasized the importance of a person-centered and evidence-based approach but also called on the international community to adopt more humane and effective policies that benefit both affected individuals and their communities.

At this special event, it was clear that the commitment of the Villa Maraini Foundation and the Rome Consensus 2.0 to a humanitarian and evidence-based approach is crucial for advancing global drug policies. With a combination of solid data and a dedication to human dignity, significant and lasting changes can be achieved in the fight against drug use disorders.