Juventas keeps providing services

We got a comprehensive information about activities of our member organisation Juventas from Montenegro about their activities on coronavirus outbreak. Here it is:

The services we deliver to persons using/injecting drugs, persons providing sexual services and ex-prisoners, although under different circumstances, are still functioning, along with new Corona preventive measures to protect staff and clients introduced:

These are:

  1. Distribution and exchange of safe injection equipment (syringes, needles, cookers, medical alcohol, elastic tourniquets, …) in Drop in centres and during outreach
  2. Distribution of free condoms and lubricants in Drop in centres and during outreach
  3. Service of washing and drying of laundry and garments (on a regular basis, but now even more so as a part of measures preventing the spread of Corona virus)
  4. Online and phone counselling with outreach and expert workers (doctor, psychologist, social worker)
  5. Delivering food packages for the ones most economically challenged (once per week, quantity for 7 days)

 According to measures issued by the Government, all external partners/associates are forbidden to provide additional services in prison. On the other hand, we are supporting the work of this institution by providing materials for in prison tailoring of protective masks throughout the framework of a project we have.

We also deliver services to the LGBTIQ community in cooperation and synergy with activities of community led organizations NGO Queer Montenegro, LBTQ Women’s Association “Stana, and Trans/Gender Variant persons’ Association “Spectra”.

All the services that we deliver to the LGBTIQ community are the following: 

  1. Distribution of free condoms and lubricants – NGO Juventas
  2. Online and phone counselling with outreach and expert workers (doctor, psychologist, social worker) – NGO Juventas
  3. Service of washing and drying of laundry and garments (on a regular basis, but now even more so as a part of measures preventing the spread of Corona virus) – NGO Juventas
  4. Delivering food packages for the ones most economically challenged (once per week, quantity for 7 days) – NGO Juventas and NGO Queer Montenegro
  5. Peer online and phone individual and group counselling and support – NGO Queer Montenegro
  6. Free legal aid – NGO Queer Montenegro
  7. Peer online and phone individual and group counselling and support for LBTQ women – LBTQ Women’s Association “Stana”
  8. Online self – support group for trans and gender variant persons- Association “Spectra”
  9. Individual online and phone consultations for trans and gender variant persons – Association “Spectra”

All communication (online/phone/in person with all preventive measures in place) is being instigated by our outreach and expert workers and completely needs focused.

Online communication with all our communities is being done via social networks (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and different other social application platforms like Viber, Whats App, Skype and a new app called Houseparty that provides different social games next to persons involved being able to converse. 

It is important to mention that staff members’ phone numbers are published and visible on all these platforms. Also, we have prepared detailed specific guidelines for our team and our clients. Together with partners, we have been advocating for protection and human rights of all communities we are working with from the beginning of the epidemics.

Read more at their website following this link>>>

 

News on COVID-19 from the region

DPNSEE publishes here news from our member organisations and countries of South East Europe related to outbreak of the corona virus COVID-19 in the region.

 

2 April

We got a comprehensive information about activities of our member organisation Juventas from Montenegro about their activities on coronavirus outbreak. Have a look at http://dpnsee.org/2020/04/02/juventas-keeps-providing-services/

1 April

Four young volunteers from Prevent returned from the voluntary service in Cyprus by a special flight organised by the Government of Serbia. The plane also picked Serbian citizens from Thessaloniki.

After landing to Belgrade they were sent to a quarantine in the pupil’s campus “Patrijarh Pavle” where 11 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus – luckily, no one from the four Prevent volunteers. Yesterday, they were released home for a self-isolation.

We hope that they haven’t caught the virus and wish them to stay healthy.

31 March

Timok Youth Centre from Serbia translated and published in Serbian the UNAIDS document “Suggestions about treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorder in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic“.

The version in Serbian is available at their website here>>>.

The original document is available at the UNAIDS website following this link>>>.

28 March

HOPS from Macedonia closed their drop-in centres but delivers sterile equipment and other material on call. Their administrative staff works from home.

 

27 March

The practitioner in CAZAS, Montenegro Nikolina Tomović prepared the text on “Patient rights in the time of corona“. The text is available at their website here>>>.

 

26 March

Timok Youth Centre from Serbia translated and published in Serbian the UNAIDS leaflet “What people living with HIV need to know about HIV and COVID-19“.

The version in Serbian is available at their website here>>>.

The original document is available at the UNAIDS website following this link>>>.

***

Juventas from Montenegro is still providing services for PWUD/PWID, SW and former prisoners:

  1. Distribution and exchange sterile injecting equipment (needles, syringes, cookers, alcohol, tourniquets, distilled water) every day except weekend from 17h to 21h, and outreach once a week from 20 to 22h. They are now doing outreach just in Podgorica and in this week they have distributed bigger amount of equipment to our clients outside Podgorica, due to the new measures – ban of traffic between cities. They will distribute more, if needed.
  2. Distribution of condoms and lubricants, in above mentioned working hours.
  3. Washing and drying clothes service, every working day from 17h to 21h.
  4. Online consultations and consultations over the phone, with their peer workers, social workers doctor and psychologist.
  5. Lunch packages with essential groceries, once a week.

25 March

ARAS from Romania reported that they face the problem of drug users returning to Romania from Italy and wanting to enter the methadone treatment. But, they cannot accept new patients anymore, because this means a long period of coming daily to our centre and they cannot guarantee it will stay open.

23 March

Our member organisation Labyrinth from Kosovo sent us information about their activities related to coronavirus outbreak:

From the last week, we have temporarily closed the Drop in. Our clients can’t stay in premises of Labyrinth, but they continue to take all the services we have, especially the Methadone Maintenance Therapy. From this week 120 clients that are in programme of Methadone Maintenance Therapy are separated in three groups, and they take away methadone for one week.

Clients can take sterile equipment. We give them information how to protect themselves from covid 19, including IEC materials, gloves, disinfectant. Unfortunately we don’t have enough masks to give them.

We have temporarily interrupted the psycho-social services, outreach activities.

From this week only necessary staff is working. Also we have started to disinfect the Labyrinth premises.

 

20 March

Organisations Cazas and Juventas published information and instructions for protection against coronavirus in Montenegrin.

18 March

Organisation Juventas from Podgorica, Montenegro prepared “homemade” bottles with alcohol for people who use drugs they serve because the shipment of alcohol wipes they ordered was blocked at the border. A great initiative and true commitment!

16 March

Team of the Association Duga from Šabac, Serbia, visited suburbs with Roma populations and various vulnerable populations to inform them about preventive measures against coronavirus. They dedicated special attention to those who recently returned from the areas with high epidemics – Italy, Germany and Austria – who either came to visit their families back home or returned from seasonal work (especially sex workers).

This action was supported by the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the West Balkans (ReLOaD), financed by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP Office in Serbia.

 

14 March

Together with our member organisations Prevent and Re Generation, DPNSEE have prepared information and instructions for protection against coronavirus in Serbian for people in risk from vulnerable populations we support. We used several sources: INPUD, Leafly, Crew and BesD. These instructions will be available in various institutions and civil society organisations in Serbia.

 

13 March

On the initiative from civil society organisations, following the DPNSEE Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19, a meeting was called by the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia to discuss the measures to protect people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups. The meeting was held on 13 March with representatives of the Office, Ministry of Health, Special Hospital for Addictions and four civil society organisations. News about the meeting is available following this link>>>.

 

7 March

Association Margina from Tuzla, Bosnia Herzegovina had a meeting with the people who use drugs they serve. Besides general issues (creating a community organisation, initiative for opening a public institution for addictions and therapy in the Tuzla canton, etc.) a special part of the meeting was dedicated to prevention measures for coronavirus.

 

5 March

Association “Prevent” shared larger quantities of sterile equipment to the users and other key populations they support in Belgrade, to make sure that they have it and use it in case of restrictions of move which are expected.

 

2 March

DPNSEE published a Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19

Drug Policy Network South East Europe shares concern that the health systems may not have fully in their sight the key populations we are supporting (people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBTI and MSM, homeless, etc.) and that these populations, being side-lined in the community, may not be well informed about the threat and measures they should take to protects themselves.

 

28 February

Our colleagues from member organisation Terra, Rijeka, Croatia informed us that controls at the borders are reinforced, especially those with Italy. They keep informing users about the protection measures. The users show no sign of panic which is already present in some media. They give away vials with alcohol antiseptic. This is very important because most of the users they serve are homeless.

***

Slovenian authorities accepted the invitation from the Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions in Slovenia. The meeting is scheduled for Monday 2 March.

Luckily, there are no cases of corona virus in Slovenia.

 

27 February

The Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions in Slovenia send an invitation for a meeting with governmental institutions. The invitation was sent to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, National Institute for Public Health and Center for Treatment of Drug Addiction at Psychiatric Clinic Ljubljana.

***

Croatia confirms third case of corona virus infection, this time in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka where our member organisation Terra works – https://t.co/c3bApgAoJo. Our thoughts are with our colleagues there.

 

26 February

North Macedonia’s Health Ministry today confirmed the first case of a corona virus infection in the country – https://t.co/cHyFTqZgVt.

A woman from Skopje seems to have contracted the virus after returning from a one month stay in Italy. Our colleagues from HOPS and Coalition “Margini” operate in that city.

***

Greece’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, a 38-year-old woman admitted to a special ward at AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki, was reported to be in relatively good condition on Wednesday – https://t.co/dB1B0YWEwg

***

Our member organisation Cazas from Montenegro posted a tweet advising those interested to contact the national Institute for public health for more information about the corona virus.

Special issue on the state of harm reduction in Europe

In collaboration with Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the Harm Reduction Journal is planning a special thematic series on the state of harm reduction in Europe, to be launched at the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference in Prague, 4-6 November 2020.

Partners are seeking submission especially of articles reporting on contemporary research findings, but also commentaries on aspects of harm reduction policy and programming – anywhere regionally or locally in broader Europe, and on any issue to which the harm reduction approach is relevant.

Please see the Call for Papers in this link: https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/HR-Europe2020 and please pass this Call on to your colleagues and networks who may be interested in submitting an article for consideration for publication.

HOPS appointed the Acting Executive Director

Announcement for appointment of Acting Executive Director of HOPS

In times of extraordinary circumstances the Association HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje is experiencing, due to the sudden death of our dear colleague and Executive Director Mr. Ivica Cekovski, the Steering Committee has reached a decision to appoint Ms Hadji Sterjova Simnovic as an Acting Executive Director of the organization. This decision is a temporary one, with a duration of three months, i.e. until the state-of-emergency ends in our country and proper conditions for electing and appointing new Executive Director will be created. The position of Acting Executive Director entails the same responsibilities and obligations as an Executive Director.

Ms Sterjova Simonovic ќ is an attorney, with a long-standing experience working for HOPS and has an indispensable experience and knowledge in its activities, as well as the communities it represents.

Rome Consensus for Humanitarian Drug Policy

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Partnership on Substance Abuse, co-sponsored by the Government of Italy, UNODC, WHO, in cooperation with the Levenson Foundation, the C4 Recovery Foundation, PTACC and the Villa Maraini Foundation, has launched the Manifesto “Rome Consensus 2.0 towards a humanitarian drug policy” at the 63a CND at UNODC in Vienna.

The Manifesto wants to promote universal access to treatment and care, as well as alternative measures to criminal justice for people who use drugs. The aim is to address the drug problems at all levels by giving emphasis to a humane attitude in support of people with drug disorders. The primary objective of humanitarian aid and approach is to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity.

The Rome Consensus 2.0 is available following this link>>>

To sign the Rome Consensus 2.0 please visit following link>>>

People with drug use disorders maybe particularly vulnerable to COVID-19

The UNODC Prevention Treatment Rehabilitation Section published Suggestions about treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorder in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – A contribution to the health security of countries and communities. The document underlines that it is crucial to ensure drug treatment, care and rehabilitation services for people who use drugs and people with drug use disorders continue in the time of coronavirus outbreak. It is the key not only to protect the health of vulnerable populations, but also key to security and stability.

UNODC suggests that Member States and drug treatment, care and rehabilitation systems and services develop plans to ensure continuity of care for people who use drugs and people with drug use disorders, bearing in mind the following issues:

  • Address continued access to the services
  • Address the safety of the staff and the patients at the services
  • Make sure the premises of the services are clean and hygienic
  • Provide people with information on and means to protect themselves at every possible occasion
  • Continuity of low-threshold services
  • Continuity of pharmacological therapy
  • Support homeless people, including people with drug use disorders
  • Under no condition should a person be denied access to health care based on the fact that they use drugs!

To read the document follow this link>>>

COVID-19 and people who use drugs

What specific risks are people who use drugs (PWUD) likely to face during the COVID-19 pandemic? What services will they need? How will professionals working with this group adapt on the frontline? These are among the questions raised and answered in a new EMCDDA briefing.

The briefing offers information about:

  • Context – the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in the EU
  • What are the particular risks for people who use drugs (PWUD) during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Underlying chronic medical conditions are associated with some forms of drug use and increase the risk of developing severe illnesses
  • The risk of drug overdose may be increased among PWUD who are infected with COVID-19
  • Sharing drug-using equipment may increase the risk of infection
  • Crowded environments increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • Risks of disruption in access to drug services, clean drug-using equipment and vital medications
  • Implementing prevention measures against transmission of COVID-19 in settings used by PWUD
  • Guaranteeing continuity of care during the pandemic
  • Ensuring service continuity
  • Service provider protection during the pandemic – important interventions to consider

The briefing is available at the EMCDDA website following this link>>>

Your Input needed!

Displaced populations may be vulnerable to substance use disorders for a variety of reasons. These include pre- or post-migration stress and trauma, including loss of homes and livelihoods, violence, torture, mental health disorders and family separation.

The UNODC Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Section (PTRS) in coordination with WHO and UNHCR is planning a consultation process to develop a technical guidance tool to address substance use and substance use disorders, as well as associated health and social consequences in Relief and Humanitarian Settings and to increase access to substance use disorder treatment also in Humanitarian Settings. An expert group meeting is tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of 2020.

As part of the consultation process civil society organisations are invited to provide relevant information about treatment and care for displaced populations. In particular by:

  • Sharing national experiences, studies and good practices on addressing substance use disorders and providing treatment and care for people with substance use disorders in humanitarian settings and/or for displaced populations;
  • Informing about the current use of technical tools, guidelines, protocols or else to guide the work on treatment and care for people with substance use disorders in humanitarian settings and among displaced populations;
  • Indicating to UNODC which kind of technical guidance tool would be most relevant, needed and applicable in order to provide improved services for people with substance use disorders in humanitarian settings or for displaced populations with substance use disorders;
  • Describing existing mechanisms for interaction and coordination at the national/regional level, including joint- or inter-ministerial entities, civil society coordination mechanisms or else which bring together health, humanitarian and other sectors that could play a key role in a later implementation of the technical guidance tool to be developed by UNODC, in coordination with WHO and UNHCR, to address substance use disorders as well as associated health and social consequences in Relief and Humanitarian Settings;
  • Providing the full name and complete contact details of a focal point, to facilitate future communication and exchange about the information provided.

The information collected will be used to understand the use and barriers for application of currently available tools, identify needs, gather information on what kind of technical tool could be practically applicable and increase access to treatment and care of substance use disorders in humanitarian settings.

Relevant input should be sent as soon as possible but no later than 15 May 2020, by sending it to Ms. Anja Busse (anja.busse@un.org), Mr. Wataru Kashino (wataru.kashino@un.org) and info@vngoc.org.

To get more information, follow this link>>>.

 

Global Fund response to COVID-19

Extract from the Global Fund Note on COVID-19

The escalating COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is changing the way that we live and work. The Global Fund is adapting to the rapidly changing circumstances, to remain focused on:

  1. Maximizing impact from the current grant cycle, and
  2. Working with partners for the timely submission of high-quality grant applications, along with strong Prioritized Above Allocation Requests.

In the Guidance Note on Responding to COVID-19, the Global Fund underlined that

The Global Fund strongly encourages countries to consider and take prompt action to mitigate the potential negative consequences of COVID-19 on existing programs supported by Global Fund grants. Particular attention should be given to health worker protection, communication to affected communities, maintenance of essential services, supply chain coordination, early replenishment of stocks, disinfection of assets, waste management. Related costs may be approved by the Global Fund as eligible expenditure.

To give countries further flexibility in responding to COVID-19, the Global Fund will consider, subject to prior approval:

  • Timebound reprogramming of savings under existing grants (up to a limit of 5% of total grant value) and/or;
  • Redeployment of resources procured through existing grants, particularly infrastructure and capacities that become under-utilized because of COVID-19.

 Eligible activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Epidemic preparedness assessment;
  • Laboratory testing;
  • Sample transportation;
  • Use of surveillance infrastructure;
  • Infection control in health facilities;
  • Information campaigns.

 Where there are no savings possible in existing grants or in other exceptional circumstances, an existing grant may be re-programmed up to an additional limit of another 5% of its total value.

The Global Fund constantly monitors COVID-19 developments and is working to adapt its guidelines accordingly. Further updates will be issued in the coming weeks. Visit their website for the latest information following this link>>>.

 

We lost Ivica

It is with our deepest sorrow that we learned of passing of Ivica Cekovski, the Executive Director of HOPS, North Macedonia.

It was a joy to work with Ivica. He was calm, nice, organised and eager to give a helping hand. He was a wonderful person who will be so sorely missed.

We join our friends from HOPS with thoughts of comfort in helping them get over the immense void left behind by the loss of our beloved colleague Ivica. Words cannot express our sorrow. Ivica will be missed.