Addiction & Overdose

A Toolkit for Building Effective Community Advisory Boards

March 8, 2024

Syringe service programs, also known as needle exchange programs, are public health strategies designed to improve health and wellness outcomesamong people who use drugs. These programs provide sterile syringes and other injection equipment and offer services such as safe disposal of used needles, HIV and hepatitis testing, access to healthcare, counseling, and referrals to drug treatment and other social services. The most effective programs utilize community advisory boards to develop solutions that are responsive to their community's needs.

In his latest toolkit, Bloomberg Fellow and Director of Harm Reduction at Behavioral Health System Baltimore, Inc. Zach Kosinski outlines a framework for syringe service programs to establish effective community advisory boards. The framework, developed as part of his Bloomberg Fellowship, is broken into twelve subsections that guide program leaders and community members through the process and provide solutions for potential challenges.

The framework from Kosinski outlines:

  • The importance of meaningful involvement of people who use drugs
  • The benefits and challenges of community advisory boards
  • Membership makeup and organization
  • Expectations, norms, policies, and procedures
  • Membership onboarding and training 
  • Measuring success and impact

Click here to read the full framework and utilize these strategies for establishing a community advisory board for more effective harm reduction in your area.


If you’re interested in other harm reduction strategies from the initiative check out these projects:

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