As a concept, what we call harm reduction of drug use today, starts in the first half of the ХХ century in North America and Western Europe. Still, as we read in the article „From Merseyside to Skopje”, part of this issue, the first organized form of harm reduction programs was first recorded in the early 1980s in Liverpool, Great Britain. Since then, it quickly becomes adopted and applied all through Europe and the world. We were lucky that almost simultaneously with the spread of heroin epidemics in Macedonia, in the first half of the 1990s, individuals and organizations stood out and undertook the introduction of harm reduction programs, first in Skopje, and later in Strumica, Bitola, Kumanovo, Shtip, Gevgelija, Kavadarci, Ohrid, Gostivar, Tetovo, Prilep, Veles and Kichevo.
It is not the first time that the topic of harm reduction is present in journalistic publications in Macedonia, but it is the first time that a whole issue has been dedicated to it. The leading article „From Merseyside to Skopje” offers a wide overview of the historical development of European harm reduction policies and practices, with special emphasis on Macedonia. Along this article comes the interview of representatives from the „Merseyside model”, which discusses the beginnings of the harm reduction program in Liverpool, but also the role the Police had in preventing violence towards sex workers.
In the journalist report by Juijana Nastoska, we read about the harm reduction activities which the association “Stigma” carried out in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a country similar to Macedonia in several aspects.
Eleonora Panchevska Nikolovska’s article presents the drug policies of the City of Skopje, also encompassing the harm reduction policy.
Other articles in this issue either cover the advantages and benefits of harm reduction programs from many different aspects, or support the need for a wider institutional support of these policies in Macedonia.
We are aware that this is just a small part of what harm reduction policies comprise, and the significance they have in improving the quality of life of the wider community, but we hope that readers will get interesting information in it, and in some of the future issues we shall go back to this topic.