Training for national consultancy teams

The training for national consultancy teams was organised from 3 to 5 September 2018 in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina. It was the first in a serial of training opportunities offered by the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe project.

The aim of the training was to gain mutual understanding of the project, the budget advocacy and monitoring model and role of the consultancy teams in implementing the national plans of actions. 15 participants came from the three involved countries.

The training will be delivered by Darko Antikj from ESE and Vlatko Dekov from HOPS who have developed the model and successfully implemented it in Macedonia.

The agenda included issues of:

  • Introduction to Budget cycle on national and local level
  • Budget research and analysis
  • Stakeholders and advocacy models
  • Planning and implementation of the budget advocacy process and
  • Country group work on national budget advocacy plan

The training have helped to clarify various issues related to the topic and the way the project will be implemented and agree on basis for designing the national plans. Also, it was specific team building exercise for the national consultancy teams.

Kofi Annan died

The former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, has died at the age of 80 after a short illness, his family and foundation announced today. The Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a press release emphasizing that “A former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Commissioner Annan worked tirelessly for peace throughout his life, and addressed the many challenges confronting the world with wisdom and pragmatism. He initiated the move towards eradicating extreme poverty with the Millennium Development Goals and contributed considerably to the global response to HIV.”

Mr Annan was a great man and hugely important advocate for drug law reform. He will be missed.

Here is a selection of his quotes and an important speech he made in December 2016.

Misguided attempts to prevent the use of drugs by only punitive measures have not worked; instead they have resulted in mass incarceration.

Drug policies should be grounded in scientific evidence and a deep concern for health and human rights.
That is why we strongly believe the time is right for a smarter, health-based approach to drug policy.
Kofi Annan speech at the 68th World Health Assembly on 21 May 2015.

Leadership means finding ways to reach out to all groups, and devising approaches for prevention and treatment suited to their needs – whether young people, sex workers, injecting drug users, or men who have sex with men.
Kofi Annan at AIDS Conference 2004.

When I first moved to the idea of a Global Fund, in fact I called it a war chest, quite a lot of people laughed it off saying “There he goes again, dreaming.” I love dreams. It always starts with a dream.

You are never too young to lead, and we are never too old to learn
Kofi Annan, addressing Global Citizen Live in London, April 2018.

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The preamble of the 1961 United Nations single convention on narcotic drugs states that the “health and welfare of mankind”, and I repeat “health and welfare of mankind”, is the main objective of that convention. Unfortunately, current drug policies in many countries will not lead to the achievement of that objective. To the contrary, those policies have resulted in what the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has called ‘unintended consequences’. Those unintended consequences include the creation of a huge, international criminal black market that fuels corruption and spreads violence.

Misguided attempts in some countries to prevent the use of drugs by only punitive measures have not worked; instead they have resulted in mass incarceration. And some countries spent more on prisons than education. In other countries, the so called “war on drugs” has led to massive insecurity. As I have said before and I repeat here tonight: I believe that drugs have destroyed many lives, but wrong government policies have destroyed many more. A criminal record for a young person for a minor drug offence can be a far greater threat to his or her well-being than occasional drug use.

In many parts of the world, drug users are stigmatized, live under constant threat of arrest and are prevented from seeking treatment and support. So I am convinced that current drug policies have to be reformed to ensure that they encourage prevention and treatment based on evidence of what works. Sadly, drug policy has never been an area where evidence and effectiveness of policies have led the way. Obviously, we all want to protect our families from the potential harms of drugs. But if they do develop a drug problem – that is a chronic relapsing illness as the WHO has defined it – they should be viewed as patients in need of treatment and not as criminals. In what other areas of public health do we criminalise patients in need of help? Surely it cannot be the job of the criminal justice system to prescribe remedies to deal with public health concerns. This is the job of public health professionals.

And the UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov has said, “the conventions are not about waging a “war on drugs” but about protecting the “health and welfare of mankind”. We should focus on that objective. The current drug policies are not achieving that goal. So the key question is: what policies would enable governments and health authorities to counter and reduce the social and health harms that drug use can cause?

If I may, I would like to make three suggestions. First, strengthen treatment services, especially in middle and low-income countries. Second, decriminalize drug use. Punitive measures do not work and put lots of people in prison where their drug use may actually get worse. Third, we need to learn how to live with drugs so they cause the least possible harm. Even though we would like a “drug-free world”, this is not a realistic ambition. Tobacco is a good example of how a dangerous and addictive product is being regulated because we know that it cannot simply be outlawed. As a result, the number of people who are addicted to cigarettes and tobacco has gone down in a large number of countries. And this happened without anyone being arrested or put in jail or sent to a “treatment program” by a prosecutor or a judge. It was achieved through higher taxes, restrictions on sale and use, and effective anti-smoking campaigns. It was regulation and education that led to this result. And the smokers in the room are probably working to turn this education into practice.

We need to regulate drugs because they are risky. Drugs are infinitely more dangerous when produced and sold by criminals who do not worry about any safety measures. Legal regulation protects health. Consumers need to be aware of what they are taking and have clear information on health risks and how to minimize them. Governments need to be able to regulate vendors and outlets according to how much harm a drug can cause. The most risky drugs should never be available “over the counter” but only via medical prescription for people registered as dependent users, as is already happening here in Switzerland. Drug policies should be grounded in scientific evidence and a deep concern for health and human rights. That is why we strongly believe the time is right for a smarter, health-based approach to drug policy.

15 December 2016

We are hiring!

At the meeting held on 22 June, the DPNSEE Board decided to restructure the Office. To improve efficiency of its work, besides the Executive Director the Staff will now include:
• Financial and Administrative Officer expected to work 80% of working time
• Communications officer, a contract based position or consultancy contract, with a total of six working days a month

The Staff members will be engaged for the period September – December 2018, with a potential to continue working in the next year(s).

If you are interested to join a small and aupportive team of a growing network working for a cause, have a look at the Calls bellow and send your CV indicating the work experience and qualifications and a description of the motives for applying by 27 August, at 12:00 CET.

DPNSEE encourages people who use drugs and members of other vulnerable populations to apply for jobs.

Call for the Financial and Administrative Officer

Call for the Communications Officer

 

Project Planning Meeting

The Project Planning Meeting of the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe project, supported by the Open Society Foundations and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, was held on Friday 3 August 2018 in the DPNSEE Office in Belgrade. The aim of the meeting is to gain mutual understanding and full ownership of the project and operationalize the plan of actions.

Organisation of training, national in all three participating countries Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and regional was most discussed. Profile and recruitment of consultancy teams, preparing national programs of actions and management of the budget were at the table too.

Dates and venues for the trainings are as follows:

  • The regional training for all three national Consultancy teams will be held from 3 to 5 September in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina
  • The training in Bosnia Herzegovina will be held from 5 to 7 September in Sarajevo
  • The training in Serbia will be held from 24 to 28 September
  • The training in Montenegro will be held from 1 to 5 October in Podgorica

The Global Fund awarded only one HIV multi-country project

In December 2017, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria called for proposals from qualified organizations to provide programming for the HIV strategic priority area “Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region” under the Multicountry catalytic funding modality for the 2017-2019 Allocation Period. Five proposals were submitted. The Global Fund announded at the AIDS 2018 Conference last week that all of them were not of excellent quality and that only one will be supported. Here is the information about which one was awarded.

New levers of change in Eastern Europe and Central Asia:
Global Fund awarded multi-country project to the Alliance led regional consortium

On July 31, 2018, the Global Fund announced its decision on the approval HIV multi-country project ‘Sustainability of services for key populations in EECA region’ submitted by consortium of regional organizations from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) – Alliance for Public Health, All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH 100% Life, Central Asian PLWHA Association and Eurasian Key Populations Health Network (EKHN), together with technical partners and TB People. The proposal incorporated contributions from Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

The Global Fund informed that the application from Alliance-led regional consortium was approved in full amount with the total budget over $ 10.5 million for three years (2019-2021).

The main objective of this project is to ensure the sustainability of services for key populations and to substantially improve the HIV cascade in the key countries of the EECA region.

“EECA is nearly the only region globally with rising HIV infections. We have very ambitious targets: to stop this dangerous trend and to make services for key populations accessible and sustainable in our region. We are ready to cooperate and join efforts with all partners to make national funding for key populations a reality!’, – stated Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of Alliance for Public Health.

“Nine countries with high levels of HIV in the region will be able to use technologies and solutions that have already proven effective. We, as the largest patient organization, are ready to partner with our colleagues to provide access to treatment, services and resources for all key populations and patients,” – said Dmitry Sherembey, Head of Coordination Council, 100% Life.

Although the main focus of the project is HIV, the consortium of regional organizations will be working closely with the multi-country TB project which will be implemented by a consortium led by PAS Center (Moldova) in 2019-2021 with the support of the Global Fund.

This is the joint victory of national, regional and international partners and the consortium is looking forward to implementing the work together.

DPNSEE congratulates the Consortium and wishes them success in implementing the project.

The DPNSEE Newsletter issue 14 is just published

In the DPNSEE Newsletter issue 14 you can read about:

  • South East Europe HIV Ministerial Meeting
  • Drug Policy co-operation between Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and national authorities in South East Europe
  • Regional drug policy conference held at Thessaloniki
  • Support Don’t Punish campaign
  • And much more…

Read or download the Newsletter following this link>>>

Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges

This article of the News will be updated daily during the Conference

More than 15.000 researchers, activists and policy makers from more than 160 countries gathered in Amsterdam for the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). The International AIDS Conference is the largest conference on any global health issue in the world. First convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985, it continues to provide a unique forum for the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights. Each conference is an opportunity to strengthen policies and programmes that ensure an evidence-based response to the epidemic.

Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema opening the Global Village

The theme of AIDS 2018 is “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges”, drawing attention to the need of rights-based approaches to more effectively reach key populations, including in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the North-African/Middle Eastern regions where epidemics are growing.

Six member organisations and DPNSEE have representatives at the Conference.

A specific warm-up of the Conference was the official opening of the AIDS 2018 Global Village by the Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema and Elizabeth Taylor grandchildren Quinn Tivey, Laela Wilding and Naomi Wilding on Sunday 22 July.

Daily highlights from the pre-conference events on 21 and 22 July is available following this link>>>

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Monday 23 July, the first formal working day of the Conference, was already full of activities. Representatives of civil society organisations from South East Europe held a consultative meeting with the Open Society Harm reduction Programme representatives. It was a good opportunity to refer to some important issues, including prices of medicines, regional multi-country project for the Global Fund and sustainability.

At the session “Harm reduction for people who inject drugs in Europe: Findings from European Joint Action HA-REACT”, the EU Health Programme 2014-2020 addressed gaps in the prevention of HIV and other co-infections in the European Union. This session focused on harm reduction services in Europe for PWID, presenting new findings and good practices from this major European project including tailored low threshold services for women who use drugs, harm reduction for prisoners and mobile unit outreach work. Presentations from the session are available following this link>>>>

In the evening, a formal opening session of the Conference was held. It was a moving and empowering, filled with emotional moments remembering those who we have lost and celebrating those who are furthering the fight against AIDS, with a special performance by the Dutch National Ballet, a keynote address by Conchita, a special tribute to MH17 and many more powerful moments.

The grandchildren of Elizabeth Taylor talked about returning Amsterdam where it all started in 1992 and how her work continues today with The Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award winner, Allan Achesa Maleche. The famous quote from Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s famous speech at the 1992 AIDS Conference, was the theme of last night’s opening ceremony – “The fight against AIDS is not and must never be a fight against other people, it’s a fight about human beings against a virus.”

You can watch the recording of the opening session

An overview of the Monday 23 at the Conference is available following this link>>>

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Tuesday 24 July morning started with a plenary session with celebrities of the Conference. The session focused on understanding the inequity in HIV response and stressed to need to focus on specific populations who are left out. The message that risk of HIV is not evenly distributed and most infections are emerging from unmet prevention and treatment needs was clear.

The highlight was the speech of Charlize Theron, a famous actress who is founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project in South Africa. Her native country. She reminded of her Dutch origin and all the colonial approach which brought so much suffering to African people. She invited to fighting prejudices and emphasised excellent activism of young Africans she observed while working on fighting HIV. You can see the Charlize Theron’s speech at AIDS 2018 Youtube channel below

Special presentation which included Sir Elton John and HRH The Duke of Sussex announced that a group of major HIV/AIDS donors, NGOs, and pharmaceutical companies have joined forces into The MenStar coalition to launch a $1.2 billion coalition to expand the diagnosis and treatment of HIV infections among men, who are currently less likely to be accessing these services.

 

A leadership workshop “It is OUR money!: Effective community advocacy to insure domestic resources for sustainable HIV services” was designed based on budget advocacy experience in EECA countries and utilizes knowledge from health financing and public financing fields to help community and civil society leaders to learn how to do budget advocacy work and formulate successful budget advocacy strategies. Elizabeta Božinovska from HERA, Macedonia, presented results of the budget advocacy and monitoring efforts that resulted in country taking over financing harm reduction services.

The Robert Car civil society Networks Fund celebrated and showcased their work and impact of civil society and community led networks in the HIV response at the session “From Invisibility to Indivisibility”. The Fund is the first international pooled funding mechanism that specifically aims to strengthen global and regional HIV civil society and community networks across the world. This focus is in recognition of networks’ critical value and contribution to better health, inclusion and social wellbeing of inadequately served populations (ISPs), given their unique reach into and impact at community level. The news is that the Fund will, though the Request For Proposals for 2019-2021, also support newly applied networks!

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One of the most interesting sessions on Wednesday 25 July was “Drugs, drug policy, harm reduction: A reality check”, co-chaired by Ruth Dreifuss, Former President of Switzerland and Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and John-Peter Kools from the Trimbos Institute, Netherlands, with Julia Buxton, Central European University, Hungary, Daniel Joloy, Amnesty International, Daniel Wolfe, Open Society Foundations, Niamh Eastwood, Release, United Kingdom and Judy Chang, International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD). The session made a powerful case for moving away from drug prohibition and abstinence as the key outcome of interest. Examples from the Czech Republic, Portugal, and other 25 countries experimenting decriminalization show that if we are to reach our 2030 goals we need to end mass incarceration, mass killings, and mass criminalization of drug use and drug possession. Most importantly, we are not going to do it without working with people who use drugs. All panellist argued that a combination of factors contributes to this massive failure. The failed war on drugs has been unfolding into wars on people in the Philippines, most of Latin American, Asia and the US; the over reliance on biotechnologies, biometrics, e.g. PreP, increase costs and shift people away from the basic message of harm reduction, that is to focus on “people needs, not health interventions” an emphasised the role of communities as key to getting back on track. A video recording and all presentations (some very effective) are available following this link>>>

The session “Civil society under threat: How can HIV advocates resist the impact? Conservative populism and social exclusion of civil society” has indicated that repression of civil society is rising. In 2012-2015, more than 120 laws restricting civil rights were introduced or proposed in 60 countries. Governments are implementing legal, administrative and other measures restricting operations of non-governmental organizations, particularly those rooted in marginalized communities disproportionately affected by HIV. Repression tools include burdensome registration requirements, restrictions on basic freedoms (including peaceful assembly and online expression), physical attacks and imprisonment. Péter Sárosi, from the Rights Reporter Foundation, Hungary and Ivan Varentsov, from the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association were among panellists. Video from this interesting session is available following this link>>>

The session “Why do we fail in responding to the epidemic among people who inject drugs?” brought together science, law enforcement and community in a panel that tried to answer a recurring question: why we are failing to respond to skyrocketing epidemics among PWID, particularly in Eastern Europe, where the lack of appropriate responses is accounting for unprecedented levels of HIV transmission? Presentations and video from the session are available following this link>>>

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You can follow all of the #AIDS2018 action throughout the week:

 

An effective public debate

Several activities took place as part of this year’s “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign in Macedonia, among which central was a Public debate on recreational drug use and harm reduction.

In preparation for the debate, informational flyers were prepared; containing information on most commonly used drugs in Macedonia in recreational settings, as well as advises on harm reduction and rights. An event page was created and promoted on Facebook, and the event was announced via the media.

The Public debate took place on 26 June 2018. Dr. Davor Smilanov (HOPS’s collaborator) moderated the debate, while the discussion panel was composed of Dr. Darko Kostovski (psychiatrist), Ivana Dragshich (sociologist and activist) and Dragana Drndarevska (lawyer and activist). Around 50 people attended the event. They had the chance to purchase t-shirts and bags prepared by the HOPS’s creative workshop, the funds from which were donated back to the workshop towards its sustainability. In addition, the debate was streamed live (and later posted) on HOPS’s page, reaching about 1.200 views (https://www.facebook.com/hops.org/videos/1259588700811262/). The conclusions from the debate were shared via HOPS’s communication channels, with special focus on laws and practices that criminalize drug use and their adverse effect on individual rights, health and other aspects of living.

The campaign concluded during D-Fest (music festival that took place 6-8 July 2018), where HOPS’s team had an informational stand, organized educational workshops and hosted creative workshops, all with the purpose to inform attendants about effects of different drugs, strategies for harm reduction, as well as individual rights.

Media coverage of the campaign:

 

June DPNSEE Board meeting

The DPNSEE Board held a regular June meeting by Skype. The meeting was scheduled for 12 June, when the Board went through the half of the agenda. The meeting continued on 22 June.

The Board adopted the minutes from the meeting held on 1 – 2 March 2018 in Skopje and the electronic meeting held on 18 May. The Board decided about dates for events in 2018.

The Board will send a letter to Correlation to express interest in participating in the process of establishing the European Harm Reduction Network. DPNSEE can be a focal point for South East Europe and propose a future Board member for which we shall wait for opening of a call for candidatures.

The Board was informed about the discussions at the meeting of the EU project partners on the future of the EU funded project and the process of designing and planning the project on budget advocacy and monitoring. Also, an information about the initial discussion with the Open Society Foundation on the programme on the quality of services was presented.

The Board supported the membership application of the Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions, from Slovenia and proposes to the General Assembly to grant it an ordinary membership status. The Board also proposes that the General Assembly grants associate membership to the Association “Duga” from Šabac, Serbia.

The Board was informed that, following the Board decision, Staff sent reminders for unpaid membership fee for 2016. Member organisations Aliat and Proi paid the unpaid fees, while there were no reply from Re Generacija. Respecting the provisions of the Article 11 of the DPNSEE Statute, the Board proposes to the General Assembly, which is only eligible to decide about membership status, to delete the ordinary membership of Re Generacija and grant it the status of associate member.

The Board adopted the proposed draft Terms of reference of the DPNSEE Scientific Committee. An open call for proposals for membership in the Scientific Committee shall be sent to all member organisations at the end of August 2018, with deadline for applications set to mid-September 2018.

The Board discussed the situation with the Office and decided that Milutin Milošević will continue as the Executive Director and that a call for Financial and administrative officer with full working time in the Office and a Communications officer with 50% working time will be openned.