US Senate plans increasing the contribution to the Global Fund by 15.6%

One month before the Replenishment Conference to be hosted in Lyon, France, good news came from the US.  Their Senate plans increasing the contribution of this single largest donor of the Global Fund by 15.6%! This is the first increase in six years and the third largest increase since the Global Fund was founded. The Senate included language affirming it anticipates funding at this level through the Global Fund’s 6th Replenishment cycle.

Excerpts from the media release of the Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Today the Senate Appropriations Committee posted the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs fiscal year 2020 funding bill, increasing funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) to $1.56 billion in fiscal year 2020, a 15.6 percent increase from the previous year. The bill is expected to be considered by the full Senate.

The report accompanying the appropriations bill also specified that the Senate Committee anticipates maintaining this appropriation level in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, coinciding with the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment cycle:

“The Committee recommends $1,560,000,000 for a U.S. contribution to the Global Fund. In advance of the Global Fund Replenishment Conference in 2019, the Committee anticipates that the United States will pledge not less than this amount for each of the three fiscal years pertaining to the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment. The Committee does not support the administration’s proposal to amend the longstanding matching rates for U.S. contributions to the Global Fund and expects the United States to continue to match other donor contributions at a rate of $1 for every $2 received from other donors.”

A $1.56 billion annual appropriation would translate to a $4.68 billion U.S. contribution over the three-year Replenishment cycle, helping the Global Fund meet its goal of at least $14 billion.

Congress has firmly rejected the President’s proposed cuts and affirmed America’s support for the Global Fund and dedication to ending the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.

Over the summer, several countries announced their pledges for the next three years – Germany, Switzerland, Canada, the European Union, Italy, Japan, UK, South Korea, even India. All will increase their contributions. The European countries (and the EU together with the individual countries are the largest contributor to the Global Fund!) in average increase by 15%.

Promotion of tolerance and equality

Combating intolerance and promotion of equality were the topics of the Conference held on 17 September 2019 in Belgrade by the Council of Europe with participants from the Government of Serbia, Parliaments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, France and Serbia, representatives of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) as well as the representatives of equality bodies, civil society organisations, international organisations and a number of embassies in Serbia.

For the Government of Serbia, the process of EU integration remains a priority with an emphasis on the respect for human rights, rule of law and democracy. The Deputy Prime Minister Ms Zorana Mihajlović highlighted that increase of intolerance among young people and violence in schools needs to be addressed by the joint efforts of the Government, independent bodies and civil society organisations. The Head of Government Office for Human and Minority Rights, Ms Suzana Paunović, emphasised the importance of identifying and sharing good practices in addressing intolerance and promoting equality. In that context, the joint European Union and Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019 – 2022” was recognised as one of the instruments which should boost and facilitate the exchange of good practices among its Beneficiaries.

The Head of Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, Mr Tobias Flessenkemper, highlighted that bringing democratic and pluralist society and respecting equal dignity of all human beings remain the prime objectives for the European societies. Furthermore, he added that today’s gathering allowed to mark the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe as well as 25 years of ECRI as well as the multiple efforts by the Serbian civil society. He concluded by underlining that Europe’s future demands from individuals and groups will address not only tolerance but also the will to act together, combining their diverse contributions.

The Head of Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, H.E. Ambassador Sem Fabrizi highlighted that intolerance and discrimination are a common challenge. They are widespread not only in Serbia, but in many countries of the world. The situation can be improved and changed only with a strong political will of the authorities to react to any form of intolerance promptly and adequately. In that way, a powerful message would be sent to those denying rights of all people, that such behaviour is not acceptable and would not go unpunished. H.E. Ambassador Jean-Louis Falconi, Embassy of France in Serbia, highlighted that strengthening the rights of Europeans also means emphasising social rights and further linking them to the European Union law.

At her keynote speech, Vice-Chair of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) Ms Maria Daniella Marouda concluded that in order to effectively combat intolerance and promote equality more must be done to project a positive image of a diverse society and to explain better the advantages stemming therefrom. Openness and tolerance in a society can only be genuine if they are not limited to certain predefined groups but embrace everyone. All persons must be protected against discrimination including those not belonging to national minorities or other vulnerable groups. A fairer society, where respect for difference is acknowledged as normal, is of benefit to all individuals.

The conference Combating Intolerance and Promoting Equality is jointly organised by the Council of Europe Anti-discrimination Department, the Council of Europe’s anti-racism body (the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance – ECRI) and in co-operation with the Serbian Government and the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality under the auspices of the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It is held under the Action Promotion of diversity and equality in Serbia funded through the joint European Union and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019 – 2022”.

At the Conference, DPNSEE Executive Director met and discussed with potential partners, especially Head of Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy, Deputy Republic Public Prosecutor and colleagues from the civil society sector.

The French Ambassador to Serbia Jean-Louis Falconi invited all participants of the Conference for a reception in the Embassy. That was the opportunity for DPNSEE Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević to get introduced to the Ambassador and briefly present him the situation with drug policy and HIV in Serbia. Mr Falconi expressed interest in the issue and promised to keep contacts on the issue.

6-0 Tournament for People Against Addictions

The featured image of this news presents teams of Kethea (Greece) and HOPS (North Macedonia) which, besides sport competition and cooperation in the area of addiction, promote friendship and multi-cultural understanding.

The sixth edition of the 6:0 International People’s Tournament for People Against Addictions was held during the weekend at the Boyana National Football Base of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), with participating teams Heart Team, School of Life, Live, HOPS, SVOI, Bilani, Kethea ithaki, Open Eyes, New Beginnings, Remar, Renaissance, Freedom, Solidarity, ON LIFE and KA Sport Jump coming from Bulgaria, Greece, Northern Macedonia, Slovakia, Russia and Ukraine.

The official opening ceremony, held on 13 September, was preceded by a round table with the participation of the Minister of Youth and Sports Krasen Kralev, Deputy Minister of Health Svetlana Yordanova, Deputy BFU Executive Director Anton Popov and representatives of the Sofia Municipality. The round table discussed the problems with dependent behaviour in Bulgaria.

“The fight against youth addiction is a priority topic in the activities of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. One of the main programs of the Ministry with a budget of BGN 2 million a year is the National Program for the implementation of youth activities. In its essence it represents a real counteraction to aggression and all kinds of addictions through the implementation of various preventive activities and the inclusion of sport as a main tool for prevention”, Minister Kralev told the roundtable participants.

Special guests of the tournament are the popular TV presenter, singer and cook Leo Bianchi and former Bulgarian football national Stanislav Angelov. The two will also participate in the event as part of Team Heart.

The project is organized by the Revenche Association and the School for Life Foundation, co-financed by the Municipal Strategy for the Development of Physical Education and Sport of Sofia Municipality and supported by the Sofia – European Capital of Sport initiative.

This event is a citizens’ initiative. The project is organized by specialists with experience in the treatment of addiction who know the problem internally. Since 2015, with the assistance of the Bulgarian Football Union, five tournaments have been held under the common slogan “Not all people are addicts, but all addicts are people!

 

14 September – Sex Worker Pride day

Today is Sex Worker Pride day, a day for sex worker community to celebrate their achievements and share stories of sex workers’ self-determination while honouring the tireless efforts of colleagues everywhere to secure rights and safety for all sex workers. It is an opportunity to celebrate and share stories of sex workers’ self-determination and the achievements of the sex worker rights movement.

After its introduction by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), the Sex Worker Pride day becomes the fourth annual key date of the sex workers rights movement. Globally sex workers face many challenges in day to day life. They are being marginalised, stigmatised and stripped from their rights. Their voices are often ignored but they never stop pursuing the rights they desperately need. The sex workers rights movement is powerful with a vibrant and diverse community that has drive and compassion that’s too big to be stopped by the difficulties they are facing.

Sex Worker Pride extends to all marginalised by criminalisation, discrimination and stigma across the sex worker movement and celebrates the diversity within our community during International Sex Worker Pride.

To mark the first Sex Worker Pride day, our colleagues from the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN), a sex worker-led regional network in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia publishes its Annual Report that shows SWAN’s work in diverse areas in order to achieve our objectives as laid out in our Strategic Plan 2018-2022. We join our members, colleagues and allies in celebrating our never ending passion for creating a better world for sex workers.

This annual report is available in English and Russian.

In Greece, the phrase “Take care of each other” continues to inspire the team of Red Umbrella Athens. A new initiative of the Day Centre and the DPNSEE member organisation Positive Voice Roadmap is the “Before You Enter, Put In” campaign. This is an attempt to sensitize sex studio clients to avoid taking photos or videos in their respective locations without the consent of the people working there. As part of Red Umbrella Athens team visits to sex studios, this issue has often been communicated as a major problem that disrupts their functioning.

 

Organisation STAR-STAR from North Macedonia, the First Sex Workers Collective in the Balkans, released a video to mark the Sex Worker Pride day.

Members of the European Parliament recommended: Take medical use of cannabis seriously

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) proposed the ways to address research gaps on medical cannabis and call on member states to seize the potential of cannabis-based medicines.

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday 11 September, MEPs call on the Commission and national authorities to draw a clear distinction between medical cannabis and other uses of cannabis. The resolution urges the Commission and member states to address regulatory, financial and cultural barriers which burden scientific research and invites them to properly fund research. The EU should embark on more research and stimulate innovation with regard to medicinal cannabis projects.

MEPs call on member states to allow doctors to use their professional judgement in prescribing cannabis-based medicines. When effective, these medicines are to be covered by health insurance schemes in the same way as other types of medicine, they say.

European Parliament

The regulation of cannabis-based medicines would translate into additional revenue for public authorities, would limit the black market and ensure quality and accurate labelling. It would also limit minors’ access to this substance, they say.

MEPs say that there is evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids may be effective in increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS. Medical cannabis may also help to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders such as psychosis or Tourette syndrome, and to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy, as well as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, cancer, Crohn’s disease and glaucoma. They also help to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes and ease menstrual pain.

Whilst the WHO has officially recommended that the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) should not be classified as a controlled substance, legislation in member states differs widely on the subject of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The European Parliament is made up of 751 Members elected in the 28 Member States of the enlarged European Union. Since 1979 MEPs have been elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year period.

Pride Week in Belgrade started

Belgrade Pride Week 2019 has begun on Monday 9th and will end with the Belgrade Pride, which will be held on Sunday 15th September.

The opening ceremony was held at the City of Belgrade’s National Assembly. Jovanka Todorović, representing the Organizational board of Belgrade Pride, opened this year’s Pride Week and gave an overview of all the important events that will take place. Goran Miletić and Marko Mihailović, fellow members of the Organizational board, spoke about the political messages of the “I do not renounce” campaign, as well as Belgrade’s candidature to host EuroPride in 2022.

Pride Week: Grand Opening

During this week Belgrade Pride will organize workshops, open talks with the community, exhibitions, movies projections, performances as well as the first Belgrade Pride Theater Festival. This year the face of the Pride is singer Sara Jovanović.

Also, the Pride Info Center with our associate member association Duga (Rainbow), will provide free HIV testing, every day during Pride Week from 3pm to 6pm, in Kralja Milana 20 in Belgrade.

The Pride walk will begin on Sunday at 5 pm on Slavija Square.

The plan and program of events during the Pride Week 2019 and plan of  Pride Walk is available following link>>>

 

5th Cannabis International Seminar

Research Nature Institute organizes 5th seminar in the Demystifying Cannabis cycle, Cannabis Now International Conference on October the 4th and 5th in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The seminar has been organised since 2014 in Ljubljana, Belgrade, Skopje and Zagreb.

During the seminar, the Slovenian and international top-level experts on cannabis will introduce us to the most recent insights into the medical use of cannabis in different countries around the world (Israel, Canada, USA, the Czech Republic, Spain). After their lecture, they will respond to your questions in a debate. The attenders and speakers at the Conference are experts in field of medicine, psychiatry, pharmacy, chemistry and biology: Dr. Jonathan Grunfeld, Dr. Lumír Ondřej Hanuš, Prof. Dr. David Neubauer, Dr. Sue Sisley, Doc. dr. Tanja Bagar, Dr. Dorothy H. Bray, Dr. Guillermo Velasco Díez, Dr. Paul Hornby, Prof. Dr. Tamara Lah Turnšek, Mag. Dušan Nolimal, Dr. Ilya Reznik, Dr. Roman Štukelj.

Research Nature Institute

Research Nature Institute is institute for research, development and quality assurance of nature remedies, with the goal to research the efficacy and safety of natural remedies that are currently available or are of limited access to persons in need. By setting standards for quality control and standardization, providing accreditation programs, and taking part in clinical trials, their aim is to ensure natural remedies are clean (free of contaminants) and effective at known dosages to the user. Their basic work is to educate the public, medical professionals and legislators of our findings based on sound scientific methodologies and principles.

To read more details about this event follow this link>>>

Global Fund Replenishment Conference FAQ

The Global Fund Replenishment Conference that takes place every 3 years. The aim of the conference is to raise funds and mobilize partners in the fight to end AIDS, TB and malaria.

The sixth Replenishment conference will take place on October 10 in Lyon, France at Palais des congrès de Lyon. This is the first time France (the second largest donor to the Fund) is playing host.

The target for the Sixth Replenishment Conference is to collect 14 billion USD over the next 3 years. This is an ambitious target, but the funds would save 16 million lives and prevent 234 million new infections between 2021 and 2023.

If you want to know more, read the FAQ webpage created by RED following this link>>>.

The International Overdose Day marked around SEE

On the occasion of the International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), DPNSEE issued a press release underlining the importance of awareness and fighting stigma on overdose and presenting data about the issue worldwide and especially in Serbia. The release was published by the national Press agency Tanjug and several other media and portals.

The press release is downloadable following this link>>>

In Montenegro, NGO Juventas also issued a press release (supported by the NGO 4 Life) and held a press conference where Marija Mijović, coordinator of Programme of direct assistance to the people in risk of social exclusion presented situation in the country. A movie “Overdose”, directed by Mladen Vujović, outreach worker at the Drop-in Centre of NGO Juventas, Montenegro in cooperation with the Hungarian Drug reporters, was screened at the Green Montenegro International Film Festval.

Our colleagues from the Romanian Harm Reduction Network created a special video for this year’s IOAD campaign. Have a look at “Voices of the drug users. Episode 1”

Association AREAL and AREALTRIBE group from Slovenia organized a workshop dedicated to the International overdose awareness day on 1 September 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Participants were educated how to respond if an individual finds himself or herself in that position.

Our colleagues from the Healthy Options Skopje (HOPS) promoted widely their webpages related to overdose and drugs

Thousands of people die each year from drug overdose and the fact is, overdose is an increasing global problem. Spreading the message that the tragedy of overdose and injury is preventable, International Overdose Awareness Day raise awareness of overdose and reduces the stigma associated with the drug-related death. Also, the day of awareness is providing support to families and loved ones of overdose victims, so that no one is forgotten.

Time to remember – time to act.

A large European survey among men who have sex with men

The European Men-Who-Have-Sex-With-Men Internet Survey EMIS-2017 collected comparable data from 127.792 participants – men who have sex with men from 48 countries in Europe. It provides insights on their knowledge of HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STI), sexual behaviour, prevention needs and testing habits.

EMIS-2017 was executed by Sigma Research (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) as part of European Surveys and Training to Improve MSM Community Health (ESTICOM). It was a three-year project (2016-2019) funded by the European Commission Health Programme 2014-2020 through a tender by the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea).

The results show considerable differences across the countries reflecting Europe’s diversity with respect to sexual health and behaviour of MSM. The report describes both MSM behaviour and needs, alongside resulting morbidities, and the likely value of current services to address these.

The Executive Summary indicates that sex between men remains the predominant mode of HIV transmission in the EU/EEA countries, where the first signs of a decline in reported new cases resulted from a 20% drop in new diagnoses among MSM (2015-2017). Responses to a survey that focused on knowledge about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, sexual behaviour, access to care, HIV-related stigma and the use of services for HIV and sexual health is a strong indication that this group cares about HIV and sexual health issues. For example, every second (56%) respondent had received an HIV test result in the last 12 months and almost half (46%) had tested for other STI during the same period.

To read full Report, follow this link>>>