Request For Proposals for EECA HIV multi-country grant

The Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) is one of the three regions globally where the HIV epidemic is increasing. In 2019, the incidence/prevalence ratio was higher than in any other part of the world: 10.1. The number of people living with HIV in the region was 1.7 million; the number of new HIV infections was 170,000 and the number of AIDS-related deaths – 35,000. In 2019, according to the data for testing and treatment cascade, 70% of people living with HIV knew their status, 44% of people living with HIV were on treatment, and 41% of people living with HIV were virally suppressed.

The HIV epidemic remains concentrated in key populations in EECA countries. Key populations and their sexual partners are disproportionately impacted, accounting for 99% of new HIV infections in 2019. Addressing the HIV epidemic would require an interlinked set of measures focused on improving sustainable access of key populations to quality prevention, diagnostics, treatment and care; improving efficiency and quality of HIV service delivery models; and building financial sustainability of provision of services tailored to the needs of key populations

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the “Global Fund”) is seeking proposals from regional stakeholders to implement a multicountry program under Catalytic Investments for the 2020-2022 allocation period.

The multi-country grant should contribute to sustainable and significant reduction of infections, illness and death by HIV/AIDS in EECA, with a clearly described theory of change and proposed specific actions and performance metrics.

Of the US$ 50,000,000 made available for this strategic priority area, this RFP refers to the US$ 13,000,000 made available under the multicountry priority area “Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region”.

To read applicants guidelines for this request, please follow this link>>>.

 

First Board meeting in 2021

The DPNSEE Board held its first meeting in 2021 on Tuesday 12 January. The Agenda of the meeting included DPNSEE Reports for 2020, Membership organisations situation, Current projects and Plans for 2021.

The Board adopted draft versions of the narrative and financial report for 2020. A decision was taken that the General Assembly will be called for early March so that the annual financial statement would then be presented along with these draft documents for adoption by the member organisations.

The Board discussed situation with member organisations, including about two of them which stopped working, membership fee payments and member organisations participation in Network’s activities.

Information that our project proposal is currently on the Regional Youth Cooperation Office Preliminary List of 12 Best Evaluated Project Proposals was welcomed. We hope that other two applications submitted in 2020 will also be successful, as well as those we plan to develop in the next few months.

The Board decided to hold Consultations on Sustainability of the Network. Aim is to exchange about the way we shall position us in the future so that our profile is improved and clearer for potential partners and donors, our communication is tailored and focused and our sources of funding are diversified.

Participation in the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference, webinar we plan with Trimbos Institute and participation in the Serbian visions multikongres was also discussed.

 

Let’s talk about drugs

Taken from the IDPC webpage

In June-July 2020 Rights Reporter Foundation, YODA, Re Generation, Young Wave and Center for Humane Policy conducted an assessment of drug education in Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Serbia based on the methodology developed by EHRA within the LEt’s Talk about drugs – new MEthods of communication with youth – LET ME project funded by the European Commission (ERASMUS+ program). The goal of the study was to assess existing drug education and its effectiveness, look at what information on drugs is available and how it is perceived by young people, examine the methods and tools used by different actors to talk about drugs with youth, and gather best practices.

The stakeholders interviewed—young people and representatives of harm reduction, prevention, and youth organizations—all agree that existing drug education is ineffective and fails to address the needs and patterns of drug use among young people.

The report will be used to design and create the manual, but also for the advocacy activities related to the promotion of prevention and harm reduction services in the youth work.

The reports are available in English and all national languages following this link>>>.

 

Human rights at the heart of drug policies

The Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs (Pompidou Group) is an inter-governmental body formed in 1971 at the initiative of the late French President Georges Pompidou. The Group’s core mission is to contribute to the development of effective and evidence-based drug policies in its member states.

This year, the Pompidou Group celebrates its 50th anniversary. It grew from 7 founding states to 41 members today, including 3 non-European countries. Under the motto “Human rights at the heart of drug policies“, the Anniversary will be celebrated throughout the year, in a series of events taking place in Europe and beyond.

The Portuguese Presidency of the Group issued a statement highlighting the main features of the Anniversary programme. The organisation’s President João Castel-Branco Goulão emphasized that “The most important feature of the Anniversary is the expected adoption of a revised statute by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. By strenghtening the identity of the Pompidou Group as a Council of Europe entity, including a strong focus on human rights, extending its mandate beyond the field of illicit drugs, fostering synergies with other international organisations and Council of Europe bodies, the new statute will give a fresh political impetus and open new legal avenues to the Pompidou Group.

A commemorative event will be held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on 28 October 2021. The commemoration will provide an opportunity to highlight the main achievements as well as contributions of some eminent personalities in the history of the Pompidou Group. A travelling exhibition and a publication on the history of the Pompidou Group will also be produced and presented during the events organized as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

To read more about the celebration and see the full list of events, please visit the webpage dedicated to the 50th anniversary>>>.

 

‘Cannabis’ and cannabinoids terminology issues

Our friend, independent researcher Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, published article addressing conceptual issues with the terminology of Cannabis and cannabinoids on the last days of 2020.

The article presents results of the research undertaken in parallel to the three-year assessment of Cannabis derivatives by the World Health Organisation. The scope is limited to Cannabis products intended for human incorporation (internal and topical consumption). Primarily embedded in pharmacognosy, the study incorporates a wide range of scholarly and grey literature, folk knowledge, archives, pharmacopœias, international law, field pharmacy, clinical and herbal medicine data, under a philosophical scrutiny. Generic and Cannabis-specific nomenclatural frames are compared to determine the extent to which they coincide or conflict.

Article ‘Cannabis’ ontologies I: Conceptual issues with Cannabis and cannabinoids terminology is available following this link>>>.

Kenzi announced that the part II of the study (‘Cannabis’ ontologies II) will follow this year with a series of more practical, concrete outputs and a proposed evidence-based nomenclature of Cannabis sativa products and cannabinoid compounds.

 

Our project proposal shortlisted!

Good news for the start of the New Year!

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) received 129 project proposals for their fourth RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals which networked 392 partners from the Western Balkans.

The Selection Committee for the Call has determined that our application meets our guidelines, that it has been highly ranked among other applications, and is in line with the priorities set out by RYCO. Therefore, it is qualified for the next phase of the selection process. We are among 12 projects on the open call Preliminary list.

DPNSEE will do our best to provide all the necessary additional documents to have the application finally accepted by RYCO.

 

EU drugs strategy for 2021-2025 approved

EU press release

The EU Council approved the EU strategy on 18 December setting out the political framework and priorities for the EU’s drug policy in the period 2021-2025. The strategy aims to ensure a high level of health promotion, social stability and security and contribute to awareness raising. On the basis of this strategy, the Council will prepare an action plan which will set out concrete measures to achieve these priorities.

With this strategy, the EU and its member states reaffirm their commitment to an approach which is based on evidence, comprehensive and balanced between demand and supply reduction of drugs, with the preservation of human rights at its core. At the same time, this strategy uses the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis in the drugs area and takes a future-oriented approach, promoting research, innovation and foresight to respond more effectively to increasing challenges and to anticipate them.

Under drug supply reduction/enhanced security the strategy targets all aspects of the illicit drug market, and includes the prevention of, dissuasion from and disruption of drug related crime, in particular organised crime, through judicial and law enforcement cooperation, intelligence, interdiction, confiscation of criminal assets, investigations and border management. This priority area has been further enhanced as compared to the 2013-2020 strategy, to respond to the challenging developments in European drug markets. These are characterised by a high availability of various types of drugs, ever larger seizures, increasing use of violence and huge profits, as well as the use of social media platforms, apps and the internet and darknet for illicit drug trafficking. Such features have not faded during the COVID-19 crisis, to the contrary.

The drug demand reduction policy area consists of a range of mutual reinforcing measures including prevention, early detection and intervention, counselling, treatment, rehabilitation, social reintegration and recovery. Such action needs to be appropriate to the local social context and the needs of the target population, be informed by scientific evidence and be safe and effective. It needs to be developed through the close collaboration of a number of health and social support services. The COVID-19 crisis has further revealed the need to ensure continuity of these actions.

A new, dedicated chapter has been added on addressing drug related harm. This section includes measures and policies to prevent or reduce the possible health and social risks and harm for users, for society and in prison settings. It covers aspects such as reducing the prevalence and incidence of drug-related infectious diseases, preventing overdoses and drug-related deaths and providing alternatives to coercive sanctions.

The strategy also identifies three cross-cutting themes in support of the policy areas:

  • international cooperation: enhancing the role of the EU as a global broker for a people-centred and human rights-oriented drug policy through cooperation with third countries, regions and international organisations, while strengthening the commitment to development-orientated drug policies and alternative development measures.
  • research, innovation and foresight: providing the EU and member states with the necessary comprehensive research and foresight capacities to address drug challenges in a more agile and proactive manner, increasing preparedness to respond to future challenges.
  • coordination, governance and implementation: ensuring optimal implementation of the strategy, including via the key action of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and of Europol, involving civil society and providing adequate resources at EU and national level to achieve this.

The Strategy is available following this link>>>.

 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is not ‘narcotic drug’ under European law

From the EMCDDA website

In November 2020, the European Court of Justice published a judgement stating that cannabidiol extracted from the cannabis plant should not be considered a drug under the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The 1961 UN Convention is the basis for national drug control laws controlling cannabis. It states that unauthorised sale of ‘cannabis flowers’ and ‘extracts and tinctures of cannabis’ should be subject to criminal penalties, and this was subsequently reflected in the EU Council Framework Decision 2004/757 on drug trafficking penalties. These flowers and extracts contain several different cannabinoids, whose concentrations can vary greatly by plant variety and by growing technique. The two most extensively studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While THC is known to be the main psychoactive component of cannabis, the recent review by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence found that CBD ‘has no potential for abuse and no potential to produce dependence’.

The European Court ruling resulted from a case referred from the French courts. In 2017, a French court convicted the seller of e-cigarette cartridges containing CBD that had been legally extracted from the whole hemp plant in Czechia, because in France only fibre and seeds are legal hemp. This case was referred to the European Court of Justice (case C-663/18), and on 19 November 2020 the court published its judgement). The court stated that, while evidence of the risk to health from CBD was still limited but may justify precautionary restrictive measures, it was inconsistent to apply the marketing ban only to organic, and not synthetic, CBD. Examining the legality of these measures that restricted the free movement of goods within the EU, the court also stated that CBD extracted from cannabis was not a drug within the meaning of the 1961 Convention; and that the EU industrial hemp regulations were not applicable to the CBD extract, as it is not an agricultural product within those regulations’ definitions.

Following this decision, the European Commission has noted in a recent press briefing that cannabidiol should not be considered as a drug within the meaning of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and cannabidiol can be qualified as food, provided that the other conditions of the EU Food Safety Regulation are also met.

 

HepHIV 2021 Lisbon & Virtual Conference

The next HepHIV conference will take place 5-7 May 2021 in a mixed face-to-face and virtual format involving participants from across community, public health and the health system.

The conference will focus on the latest evidence, best practices, achievements and challenges in the field of viral hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) prevention, testing and care, highlighting progress achieved in testing policy implementation since the ECDC integrated testing guidance was released in 2018. The conference will also specifically address the impact of and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic on the availability and provision of testing and other health services.

Abstract submission is now open with abstract deadline on 7 February, 2021. HepHIV abstracts should contain original material from recent work that is not yet in publication. The HepHIV conference encourages research on testing and linkage to care as well as best practice examples and lessons learned, also in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also abstracts on integrated testing and linkage to care of key populations within the fields of viral hepatitis, HIV, STIs and TB are encouraged.

The abstract categories are:

  1. Integrated testing programmes for hepatitis/HIV/TB/STI/TB
  2. Innovative testing services during the COVID-19 pandemic; lessons learned, including community engagement in COVID-19 testing
  3. New testing and sampling technologies to increase testing coverage, e.g. home-based HIV testing/sampling, finger prick, oral fluid, urine etc.; obstacles overcome
  4. Combination prevention for hepatitis/HIV/TB/STI in the COVID/post-COVID era
  5. PrEP integration with combination prevention, including PrEP for heterosexual men, women, trans people and other underserved potential PrEP users
  6. Models of testing and linkage to care for PWID and PWUD
  7. Testing implementation in prisons and other closed settings
  8. Engagement and integration of marginalised populations to develop innovative testing programmes which address multiple vulnerabilities

The overall objective of EuroTEST is to ensure that people living with HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs or TB have access to testing and enter care earlier in the course of their infection than is currently the case, as well as to study the decrease in the proportion presenting late for care. The initiative, originally named HIV in Europe, began in 2007 as way to bring attention to the importance of earlier diagnosis and care for people living with HIV. Although the initiative started with a HIV focus, the growing evidence has shown that HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C share overlaps in the modes of transmission and affect common key populations therefore, the initiative made a concerted effort in 2013 to also prioritise hepatitis. Since its initiation, HIV in Europe has built a European platform where independent experts from civil society, policy institutions, health care and European public health institutions to work toward influencing policy, knowledge sharing and building the evidence-base to support earlier diagnosis and care of HIV and viral hepatitis across Europe.

To get more information and send and abstract, please follow the Conference link>>>.

 

Building Awareness for CSO’s Work

EU TACSO 3, for the needs and in cooperation with the DG NEAR, would like to hear from civil society and make visible their efforts to the wider public through publishing success stories of their work being done in influencing (national/local) sectorial policy dialogue(s). The concept is to collect success stories that can be quoted as successful examples of cooperation between either EU, regional, national or local institutions with civil society.

The objective of publishing the success stories is to give the possibility to civil society to share stories of their work in supporting their community to the wider public. CSOs are one of the most vibrant fabrics of our societies and their continued support is essential for countries to develop and respond to the unprecedented challenges of our time.

Broad areas that can be taken into account for submitting inputs include:

  • Awareness raising for the need for policy dialogue;
  • Building awareness of CSO work;
  • Capacity building of CSO’s to engage in policy dialogue;
  • Capacity building of state actors and civil servants to engage in policy dialogue;
  • Development of civil dialogue mechanisms.

The deadline for submitting success stories is 15 January 2021.

DPNSEE invites member organisations and other civil society partners from the region to share their success stories.

To read more, follow this link>>>.

Technical Assistance to Civil Society Organisations in the Western Balkans and Turkey (TACSO) is a regional project funded by the European Union (EU) that improves capacities and strengthens the role of civil society organizations (CSOs). The project assists CSOs to actively take part in democratic processes in the region, and it also stimulates an enabling environment for civil society and pluralistic media development.