Denis Dedajić, President of the Association Margina from Bosnia and Herzegovina sent us a short summary of the situation from March 1 to April 10.
Drawing on our life experiences we have had the opportunity to experience (the 4-year war, the floods of 2014), we can point out that we have very quickly adapted to the situation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Our operations are compounded by the funding problems of our services that you are already aware of. Our organization is the only one that has survived the provision of harm reduction services in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In accordance with the orders and recommendations of the Crisis Staff managing this health and social crisis, we had to close both Drop in centres (Zenica and Tuzla) and transferred all forces to the field.
A rapid mapping of the terrain was carried out and interviews with a large number of clients enabled a new methodology of work, all in line with the recommendations on the method of contacts between people. We currently cover all our clients in two regions, covering about 1 million people and about 1.800 of our clients, and with the great help of our clients we have identified in both regions 20 key points – persons to whom we deliver all the materials available to us.
The material is delivered on the basis of the stated needs of our clients. In the period from March 1st to April 10th we distributed in both regions 51.800 needles and syringes, 25.000 pieces of distilled water, alcohol wipes, containers for preparation of the mixture and 1.200 containers for disposal of infectious waste. It should be noted that during this period about 45.000 needles and syringes and other infectious material were collected and deposited in our drop in centres until this crisis passed.
We have established 4 sex workers supply lines and have distributed a lot of materials (over 500 hygiene packages) and unfortunately this is the only one they have received over the last three months.
The biggest win at the moment is the involvement and commitment of our clients throughout this work process.
In interviews with the inmates of the largest prison, we confirmed that they lack basic equipment such as mask gloves and disinfectants and the needs are quite high. The good situation is that all visits are suspended and there is very little opportunity for COVID to break into these facilities, although they need urgent help with these safeguards to improve the prevention system and reduce the possibility of infection.
All of this work is done by 6 of our employees and we all do all the work and have very few resources at our disposal. The 6 of us have been volunteering for a long time and will work as long as we have materials to share with our clients.
If this model of work continues, our supplies are sufficient by the end of June. After that we will be forced to close after 18 years of conducting harm reduction services in Bosnia and Herzegovina because we will no longer be able to do so.