The Mitsampan Community Research Project is a collaborative research effort based in Bangkok, Thailand and involving the BC Centre on Substance Use of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS / University of British Columbia in Vancouver; the Mitsampan Harm Reduction Centre (MSHRC), a drug user-run drop-in centre in Bangkok; the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG), a community-based advocacy organization for people living with HIV and people who inject drugs (PWID) in Bangkok; and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Launched in 2008, the Mitsampan Community Research Project is a serial cross-sectional mixed-methods study that aims to investigate drug-using behaviour, barriers to accessing healthcare, and other drug-related harms among PWID in Bangkok. As this project employs a community-based research approach, a team of 32 peer researchers (both current and former drug users) have been trained to conduct outreach and administer surveys to local PWID. The project reached an accumulated total of 1,009 PWID over three waves of surveys in 2008–2011. Between 2011 and 2012, the research team also conducted in-depth interviews with 48 PWID.
The Mitsampan Community Research Project has produced more than 30 peer-reviewed studies and informed a number of advocacy efforts in support of harm reduction in Bangkok and the Asia-Pacific region.
The objective of the project is to address a number of areas related to health concerns among PWID in Bangkok by:
- Examining drug use behaviours and the associated harms, such as syringe sharing and the emerging use of midazolam (benzodiazepines);
- Investigating access to harm reduction services, addiction treatment, and HIV care and treatment programs; and
- Better understanding PWID interactions with law enforcement and how human rights violations perpetrated by the police impact health and healthcare access among PWID.
In collaboration with the MSHRC, TTAG, and Chulalongkorn University, a report entitled Reducing drug-related harm in Thailand: Evidence and recommendations from the Mitsampan Community Research Project was published in 2011. The report included brief summaries of findings from the first dozen peer-reviewed studies related to HIV and illicit drug use in Thailand, followed by recommendations to the Thai government and other international organizations.
Briefly, the report revealed that:
- There was a lack of harm reduction services such as needle and syringe distribution programs for PWID,
- There was widespread syringe sharing among study participants both within the community and in prisons, and
- Police misconduct such as drug planting against PWID was a common experience and associated with a history of compulsory drug detention.
- Chulalongkorn University
- Mitsampan Harm Reduction Centre (MSHRC)
- O-Zone House
- Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG)
- University of British Columbia (UBC)
- Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR)
- Open Society Foundations (OSF)