Social return on investment for HIV services

Countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region have made significant progress in setting the foundation for effective social contracting mechanisms. All of the countries have legal structures that allow them to contract NGOs for the provision of various HIV-related activities as well as provide care and support to PLHIV. However, some challenges remain, ranging from legal obstacles, complex bidding processes as well as lack of technical capacity (by NGOs) to participate in the bidding processes.

UNDP prepared the Policy Brief: Social Return on Investment for HIV services to explore this issue.

As the case studies featured in this brief have shown, activities that are conducted under the auspices of social contracting result in significant returns on investment: for each USD invested, there is a return in social investment of between 2 to 3 USD. These social returns include, inter alia, improved quality of life among PLHIV, numerous averted infections among key population groups, through counselling and distribution of needles and condoms, ultimately resulting in improved self-esteem and better quality of life among the key populations.

To access this document, please follow this link>>>.

Fulfilment of HIV-related sustainability commitments given by the Government of Serbia

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) have published the report Republic of Serbia: Benchmarking Sustainability of the HIV Response in the Context of Transition from donor to domestic funding.

The aim of this analysis is to assess the fulfilment of HIV-related sustainability commitments given by the Government of Serbia in the context of the country’s transition from Global Fund support to national funding and uses the EHRA methodology, Benchmarking Sustainability of the HIV Response in the Context of Transition from Donor Funding which seeks to evaluate the achievement of the commitments by the Serbian Government to ensure the sustainability of HIV programmes. As a part of this study, the government’s commitments have been identified and prioritised and data collected to inform the extent to which those commitments have been fulfilled as planned.

Overall, the Government of the Republic of Serbia has shown moderate progress in fulfilling its transition and sustainability-related commitments. During the assessment, the commitments made by different health system domains have been reviewed, as well as the status of commitments made by different HIV programmatic areas. Out of 6 health system domains, significant progress was achieved in service delivery and human resources; average progress in drugs, supplies and equipment, and in data and information; while moderate progress has been made in health financing; and fairly low progress in governance.

With respect to programmatic areas, significant progress has been made concerning human rights, while substantial progress has been made in the fulfilment of the commitments related to prevention, treatment and support.

This publication was prepared by Maja Stošić, MD, PhD, EHRA Consultant.

The publication was published within the framework of the regional project called “Sustainability of Services for Key Populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” which is carried out by the Alliance for Public Health, in a consortium with the 100% Life (All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH), the Central Asian HIV’ Association and the Eurasian Key Populations Health Network with the aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

To access the report, follow this link>>>.

EHRA will hold a Webinar to present the assessment framework, methodology and results following by the discussion with webinar participants on Thursday 21 September at 14:00 Belgrade time. If interested, please register at


DPNSEE Board meeting

The DPNSEE Board met for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic! Finally, we have the Board together in Belgrade, from 16 to 18 September 2021.

The meeting agenda included an extended point on updating on the situation in countries and organisations and activities in the recent period. Also, the Board discussed forthcoming activities, especially the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference, scheduled for 10 – 12 November 2021 in Prague, Czechia and online.

The Board had a very interesting and fruitful session with TACSO consultant Nenad Čelarević on Strategy review. Also, sustainability of the network was the inevitable issue to discuss.


Preparation call for CSFD members

The current Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) Core Group (which terminated their mandate) organised a preparation call for all CSFD members in the new mandate on 15 September.

During the meeting, a number of topics were discussed:

  • The rejected CSFD Proposal and the impact of this on the work of the new CSFD
  • The agenda of the first CSFD meeting scheduled for 6 – 7 October 2021
  • The working group structure of the new CSFD
  • All potential questions coming from CSFD members

The Drug Policy Network Youth East Europe have been selected as a member of the European Commission Expert Group – Civil Society Forum on Drugs 2021-2023.

Fourth program check in meeting

The DPNSEE Staff and RYCO Local Branch Offices Belgrade and Tirana had a regular update on the implementation of the “No risk, no borders for young people” on 14 September 2021.

We informed our RYCO colleagues on the implementation of the Workshop 2 held 26 – 29 August in Velipojë, Albania.

We also informed them that the Open call for experts to develop the Curriculum focused on work with the youth at risk that will be the outcome of the No Risk, No Borders project and potential future projects and programs in the area of youth risky behaviour.

Our RYCO colleagues reminded us on the need to engage an external company to perform audit of the project.


Open Call for experts

DPNSEE and its partners in implementing the “No risk, no borders for young people” open the Call for experts to develop the regional Curriculum focused on work with the youth at risk.

The Curriculum should provide a comprehensive educational approach, fully based on principle “youth for youth”. It should be developed using the technical knowledge presented through the workshops and practical skills offered through the pre-task activity and follow-up activities of the “No risk, no borders for young people” project, desk researches on the issues covered by the Curriculum and the expertise of the external experts.

Outcome of the consultancy should include:

  • Goals (expectations for learning), methods (approaches, procedures, and routines) and assessments (gathering information about students’ learning) of the whole learning experience (both training opportunities and practical work to put learning into practice)
  • List of modules which constitute the training
  • Aims, objectives, methods, materials and assessments to deliver the modules and evaluate learners’ progress

Three external experts will be recruited to develop the Curriculum at the basis of the project results. They will agree on the equal share the tasks.

This Call is open from 14 September 2021. The applications should arrive by 22 September at 23:59 CET by email to

If you are interested to apply, find more information in the document following this link>>>.


FAQ on drug overdose deaths in Europe

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) created a specific webpage which answers to the questions most often asked about drug overdose deaths in Europe. Also known as drug-induced deaths, they are deaths directly attributable to the use of illicit drugs. The information presented here is based on the latest data from the Member States of the European Union and the EMCDDA affiliates Norway and Turkey. It draws on contributions from specialists from these countries, as well as on information provided by European countries in the annual reporting exercise to the agency.

This page aims to raise awareness on the nature and scale of the drug overdose deaths problem in Europe. This topic does not receive sufficient attention, despite the high number of lives lost, the dramatic consequences for families and communities and the fact that all of these deaths are, in principle, preventable and avoidable.

The latest European Drug Report (EMCDDA, 2021a) estimated that over 5 100 deaths involving one or more illicit drugs were reported in 2019 in the European Union. This estimate rises to more than 5 700 deaths when Norway and Turkey are included. Men accounted for three quarters of drug-induced deaths. All of these deaths were premature, predominantly affecting people in their thirties and forties.

The webpage is available following this link>>>.


Time to Remember. Time to Act.

International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

The campaign raises awareness of overdose, which is one of the world’s worst public health crises, and stimulates action and discussion about evidence-based overdose prevention and drug policy.

The campaign acknowledges the profound grief felt by families and friends whose loved ones have died or suffered permanent injury from a drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message about the tragedy of drug overdose death and that drug overdose is preventable.

The goals of International Overdose Awareness Day are:

  • To provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time without feeling guilt or shame.
  • To include the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events, and encourage non-denominational involvement.
  • To give community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose.
  • To send a strong message to current and former people who use drugs that they are valued.
  • To stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.
  • To provide basic information on the range of support services that are available.
  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice.
  • To inform people around the world about the risk of overdose.

The International Overdose Awareness Day is coordinated by the not-for-profit Australian public health organisation Penington Institute.

More about the IOAD is available following this link>>>.


Turning the tide

IDPC published a historical analysis of civil society advocacy for drug policy reform at the UN, assessing gains, challenges and insight on how the latter have been generally overcome. The “Turning the tide: Growth, visibility and impact of the civil society drug policy reform movement at the UN” briefing paper offers a historical analysis of civil society advocacy for drug policy reform at the UN, assessing the many gains made and challenges encountered over time – and ways in which reform-oriented civil society has met, resisted, and generally overcome, these challenges. This paper is based on desk research, discussions with advocates involved in the key events discussed in the paper, and the lived experiences of the authors, and so is naturally weighted more to the recent moments such as Beyond 2008, the 2016 UNGASS, the 2019 Ministerial Segment, and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key international drug policy moments studied in this report – including the 1998 and 2016 UN General Assembly Special Sessions (UNGASS) on drugs, the 2009 High Level Segment and its 10year review in 2019 in particular – have created the momentum for civil society to engage in, and influence, global drug policy debates.

The participation of a wide range of reform-minded civil society representatives – including affected communities of people who use drugs, people in recovery, patients using medicinal cannabis or essential medicines for pain relief, farmers of crops used for illegal drug production, formerly incarcerated people and others – has had an undeniable impact on UN drug policy events, elevating real lived experience from the ground at often dry and bureaucratic debates in Vienna.

To read the briefing paper, follow this link>>>.

Ready for the Workshop 2?

Participants of the “No risk, no borders for young people” gathered at the Zoom meeting on 18 August 2021. The aim was to see again familiar faces, chat about how summer went/is going, share about the experiences from the youth exchange opportunities they had and check if everything is in order for the Workshop 2 scheduled for 26 – 29 August in Velipojë, Albania.