AIDS 2020 goes virtual

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), to be held on 6 – 10 July 2020, will become the first virtual edition of the International AIDS Conference because the health and safeguarding of our community is our highest priority.

AIDS 2020: Virtual will enable delegates to access and engage with the latest HIV science, advocacy and knowledge traditionally presented at the conference. It will be a combination of virtual sessions and community networking, including exhibitions, workshops, the Global Village, satellites and pre-conferences, that will reach audiences around the world.

The decision was informed by advice from the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, leading global and local health authorities and people living with HIV around the globe. In particular, organisers are acutely aware that there is not yet sufficient data on whether people living with HIV are more susceptible to COVID-19 or more likely to develop severe disease. Therefore, there is a special obligation to reduce any potential risk to the HIV community.

The theme of this year’s conference is Resilience and there is no better word to describe the HIV community and its ability to come together in a shared commitment to the global HIV response.

Registered delegates will be contacted directly in due course with further information on the new, reduced pricing structure. Details about the virtual programme will be shared in the coming weeks.

Follow the conference website for more information.

 

Global Fund allocation of additional funding

The Global Fund Board has approved in February additional funding for portfolio optimization, funded from the Register of Unfunded Quality Demand (UQD), in the amounts of 135.666,553 USD and 25.693.664 €, for 28 grants in 23 countries. The funds come from 650 million USD approved by the Audit and Finance Committee for portfolio optimization to fund high-impact interventions from the Register of Unfunded Quality Demand, linked to grants in the 2017 – 2019 funding cycle. The additional amounts will be integrated into the 28 existing grants through grant revisions that increase each grant’s upper-ceiling amount.

Also, The Global Fund Board has approved the Secretariat’s recommendation to allocate 43,3 million USD in additional funding to several countries and grants including Kosovo (HIV/AIDS). These additional funds come mostly from unutilized funds within grants, often because of countries’ lower-than anticipated rate of funds’ absorption. In addition to previously approved program budget of 1.445.502 €, recommended additional funding is for 112.010 €.

The additional 112,010 will support Kosovo’s HIV grant, specifically activities to reduce human rights-related barriers to HIV services, community responses, and systems for social mobilization, building community linkages, collaboration, and coordination. These funds will also pay for capacity building for community health workers.

The Principal Recipient for Kosovo is the Community Development Fund.

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.

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>>>.

 

2020 Global Day of Action – Getting ready!

Last year, thousands of activists in 261 cities of 92 countries joined arms to promote policies and practices that centre solidarity, reduce harm and protect human rights. The 2020 Global Day of Action is all about accelerating momentum for reform. And, to do so, we need each other.

The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) have launched the 2020 Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action’s “Call for Expressions of Interest”. If you’re thinking about joining the 2020 Global Day of Action, fill the form available online or in Word format and apply.

As DPNSEE will coordinate activities of the campaign in South East Serbia, it would be great if you would also send us the information about your plans.

Should you need inspiration or guidance, check out the repository with hundreds of activities organised in previous years.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, 17 April 2020.

An important information:

At the moment of drafting, over 150,000 cases of COVID-19 have been detected across the globe. It is impossible to accurately estimate how the pandemic will evolve in the coming weeks and months, but we know it will disproportionately affect many of the populations at the heart of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign. We believe we have a responsibility to do our best to keep ourselves and others healthy. When completing the form, we invite you to consider alternative plans in case the pandemic impedes the realisation of your initially-planned activities.

More information is available from the Support. Don’t Punish webpage following this link>>>.

 

Tool for Gender-Responsive Harm Reduction Services for Women who Use Drugs

The International Network of People who use Drugs (INPUD) and the International Network of Women who use Drugs (INWUD), in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) HIV/AIDS Section and Koalisi Satu Hati, a community advocacy group in Indonesia, developed On the A-Gender: Community Monitoring Tool for Gender-Responsive Harm Reduction Services for Women who use Drugs. It aims to be a resource for community advocates to begin documenting, evidencing and addressing this state of play. The tool acknowledges the diversity and intersectionality of women who use drugs – including sex workers, lesbian and transwomen.

Worldwide, women who use drugs are vastly underserved within health and social services and programmes. National and international research, services, guidelines, and training programmes are either gender-neutral or male-focused. As harm reduction services are primarily tailored to men, women who use drugs often find their specific needs being unacknowledged and unaddressed, leading to non gender-responsive harm reduction services.

This resource can be a useful and a practical first step towards developing advocacy strategies to introduce and scale up gender-responsive harm reduction services in various settings around the world. In this way, the right to health of women who use drugs can be respected and better promoted.

To read full and download the tool, follow this link>>>