Zambia is one of the African countries that are most badly affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic. Almost 8 percent of today’s population (approximately 1.1 million people) is HIV-infected. This led to the aggravation of poverty and other consequences many of the young people and their families are trapped in. Not uncommonly the use of alcohol or drugs is a means of coping with social and economic stress.

The Serenity Harm Reduction Programme Zambia (SHARPZ) is a collaborative agency offering comprehensive alcohol- and drug-abuse prevention services as well as targeted programs to promote mental health and prevent harmful substance use. SHARPZ takes a public-health approach to the issue of drug and alcohol abuse, influenced by the social and medical realities of the response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It has developed evidence-based interventions designed to address not just the issues that arise from substance abuse, but the factors that contribute to it, such as childhood trauma.

SHARPZ has used Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) as an evidence-based approach to address the needs of children who have been affected by trauma and their families. “SHARPZ is not only an active participant in many of the studies of TF-CBT that have been conducted in Zambia; it is also the one organization that has continued to provide counsellors trained in TF-CBT and ongoing supervision, and that offers these services to the community on a regular basis”, explains Dr. Mark van Ommeren, Mental Health Expert of the World Health Organisation.