About Indonesia & context

Indonesia is a vast and diverse archipelago of 17,000 islands in Southeast Asia. The country is divided into provinces which are divided into regencies and cities, and the cities are subdivided into districts. The country’s population is highly concentrated in Java.

Drugs in Indonesia

With a population of 254 million, Indonesia has an estimated 105,000 injecting drug users (Global State of Harm Reduction, 2016). Indonesia’s culture is diverse and religion plays an important role in the country. Drug use and sexuality are sensitive topics. 

Since December 2014, there has been a War on Drugs declared in Indonesia. A state of emergency has been declared pushing for extreme punitive measures, such as the death penalty for the drug trade being imposed. The Law on Narcotics criminalises the personal use of substances and brings dissonant directions around punishment and drug treatment. In addition, this law also mentions that self-reporting of drug use is mandatory, potentially criminalising people who use drugs (PWUDs) and their family members who fail to report drug use or dependence (UNAIDS 2012). As a result, PWUD are harassed and ostracised.

According to UNODC estimates from 2013, Indonesia shows cannabis as the most widely used drug in the country, followed by methamphetamine (‘shabu’), heroin and ecstasy (UNODC 2013). 

The price of heroin skyrocketed in Indonesia in recent years. A gram of heroin costs up to 400 dollars, according to outreach workers of local harm reduction organisation Karisma Foundation. As a result, more and more users have switched to crystal meth in recent years.

HIV/Aids in Indonesia 

Indonesia’s HIV epidemic is concentrated among specific high-risk groups, with HIV prevalence averaging 36% among People who Inject Drugs (PWID). Prevalence of Hepatitis C is as high as 77.3% among this group. Recent research conducted by Atma Jaya Catholic University - with Mainline support - signals a 4% HIV prevalence among those who smoke shabu and who never injected their drugs.

Of the 4.8 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Asia Pacific, more than 13% are living in Indonesia, which is among the 16 countries that have the highest prevalence of HIV among PWID in the world. DKI Jakarta, Papua and Jawa Timur are the Indonesian provinces with the highest number of HIV cases in general.

Harm reduction in Indonesia

Harm reduction activities in Indonesia are almost entirely financed by international donors, and the government has not been able to take over the support when there are budget cuts or when donors leave (Initial Consultation, 2016). However, harm reduction is accepted by government and needles and syringe programmes, methadone and various HIV services for PWUD are available in local health care clinics (pukesmas). These interventions are financed via a Global Fund grant.

The Indonesian government heavily invests in drug treatment. A complex system of drug treatment centres, with various methods and levels of effectiveness, has emerged under government institutes such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the national drug authorities BNN. The complexities of this system are described in a report by LBH Masyarakat.

Although much good work is done, government and local drug treatment organisations are struggling to offer suitable and effective services. Services are slow to respond to the switch in drug culture from heroin to shabu. This leaves local NSP empty. Mainline is the only donor that adapted funding strategies to the changed drug culture and sets out to find best practices to serve the needs of those who use shabu.

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Our work in Indonesia

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News from Indonesia

Contact project leader Indonesia: Hatun Eksen

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