Regional workshop on gathering data on human rights violations

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) will conduct a 2-day regional workshop for activists and professionals from South East Europe countries “Gathering data on human rights violations and reaction mechanisms” on 18-19 March 2020, in Belgrade, Serbia.

The workshop is conducted as part of the three-year multi-country project “Sustainability of Services for Key Populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” (#SoS project).

Goal of the workshop is to equip activists and professionals in South East Europe countries with knowledge on principles and mechanisms of data collection on human rights violations against key populations and follow-up reaction.

Objectives

  • To discuss the most common human rights violations and gender barriers to access HIV prevention and care services.
  • To examine methodologies of data collection on human rights violations (cases).
  • To provide in-depth information on UN treaty bodies and processes of shadow reports submissions.
  • To understand the follow-up system for its systematic and effective use.

Facilitators of the workshop – Mikhail Golichenko, International Legal Consultant, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and Maria Plotko, Program Officer, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA).

The workshop will gather over 25 activists and professionals from NGOs, human rights and community organizations from 5 South East Europe countries – implementors of the SoS project – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, The Republic of North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia) who are either engaged into the human rights protection work or eager to start working over cases on human rights violations and follow-up reaction on them.

DPNSEE General Assembly and SEE dialogue on drugs 2020

The regular annual DPNSEE General Assembly will be held on 20 February 2020 in Belgrade. The key topic of the Assembly will be finalising the strategic plan of the Network. The Assembly will include usual agenda point on reporting and planning the work in 2020.

Following the success of the first dialogue between national authorities and civil society organisations held in 2018, the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Drug Policy Network South East Europe organize the second meeting of national authorities responsible for drug policy and civil society organisations from South East Europe. The meeting will be held on Friday 21 February 2020 in Belgrade, in the Palace of Serbia.

The aim of the meeting is to discuss about issues of importance for drug policy and reflect on the cooperation between authorities and civil society organisations at the national and regional level and perspectives of future cooperation.

The key topics for this meeting will be:

  1. Decriminalisation of drug consumption and possession for personal use – challenges and experiences
  2. Role of civil society in drug policy

Governmental representatives and civil society organisations from Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia will have an opportunity to hear results from decriminalisation processes in Italy, Portugal and The Netherlands, discuss pros and cons for drug decriminalisation in countries of the South East Europe region, share their experiences and examples of successful inter-sectorial cooperation and propose recommendations for improvements.

Representatives of ministries of health, justice, social services and interior of the Government of Serbia, Directorate of Police, Republic Public Prosecutor, Office for Supporting Civil Society, other civil society organisations, embassies, and international organisations are also invited to the meeting.

 

Visit to the Special Prison Hospital

Photo: Ministry of Justice of Serbia

DPNSEE Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević visited the Belgrade Special Prison Hospital for a meeting with the director Dr Dragoljub Paunović and Dr Olivera Matijašević.

The Special Prison Hospital houses and treats both convicts with illnesses and persons with an imposed mandatory measure of substance and alcohol abuse treatment. The hospital currently hosts 778 patients to whom a complete healthcare (except operations) and medicines are offered by 303 doctors and other staff. It is the only prison hospital supporting 28 prisons in the country.

Besides sharing about activities on both sides, we discussed opportunities for cooperation on a variety of issues including state of drug use and recovery, HIV and Hepatitis C, opioid substitution therapy, testing for blood borne diseases, support in the pre-release from prison process, training and information sharing with medical staff and prisoners, etc.

Strategic planning to improve sustainability of HIV prevention services

The Alliance for Public Health engaged a group of experts to perform a brief assessment of the latest experiences in the Serbia on financing civil society organisations with national funds, including the Global Fund national grant, and to plan on the national level for the sustainability strategy and concrete steps.

The experts visited Serbia from 16 to 20 December and held a serial of meetings with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Health Insurance Fund, CSOs and other stakeholders. At the last day of the mission, the concluding stakeholder consultation with presentation of preliminary findings was conducted.

The visit was organized by DPNSEE member organization Timočki omladinski centar, who is the national lead of the multi-country project implemented by the consortium led by the Alliance. Representatives of DPNSEE and our other member organisations Prevent and Duga also contributed at the meetings.

Regional Forum on Drug Addiction and Recovery

With over 240 member organisations World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) organises a World Forum Against Drugs every two years and hosts regional conferences together with members throughout the year. The regional Forums against Drugs are hosted in strategic location throughout the world. This year, Belgrade, Serbia has been selected to host the First Regional Forum on Drug Addiction and Recovery for the Balkan region, to be held in Belgrade, Serbia, 19 – 20 of November 2019. The Forum is being organised as part of the ongoing regional project which is a joint cooperation between World Federation Against Drugs and three leading Civil Society organisations in the Balkan region: Izlazak, Celebrate Recovery and Preporod. The three organisation are working within the recovery field and providing support services to active users, individuals in recovery and members of their families, and they are actively involved in shaping drug policies in their countries.

The Forum will focus on Drug Addiction and Recovery within the Balkan region, bringing together representatives of civil society and local authorities. During a two-day Forum, participants are welcomed to a mixture of speeches, testimonies and workshops highlighting the main theme which are addiction and recovery, but will, among other, cover areas such as prevention, the legal status and decriminalization of cannabis and many other. The Forum will further present the results of joint project entitled “Choose Recovery” in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.

With knowledge of your excellent work, organisers extend a formal invitation for participation in the Regional Forum. The hosts will cover accommodations.

More information and updates are available on the following link http://forum.biramoporavak.com/ (only in local languages).

Budget analysis presented in Serbia

The budget analysis in Serbia was completed and presented on an event organised jointly by Prevent and DPNSEE in the EU Info Centre in Belgrade on 1 October 2019. The analysis was prepared in scope of the project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe by the team of consultants engaged by Prevent.

The surveys were of a meta-analytic nature, conducted on data and information obtained on the basis of publicly available documents published by state bodies: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia, the Customs Administration and the Agency for Business Registers.

The aim of the research was to explore the status and trends of program financing in order to find opportunities and solutions for securing funds for their sustainability.

The analysis clearly shows a continuous decrease in the allocation of funds for preventive health care, regardless of whether the total budget of the Ministry is increased or decreased and whether the budget of the Ministry of Health occupies a higher or lower percentage in the national budget for a given year. The most significant finding is the constantly present difference in the planned and executed budget – the allocated/spent funds are continuously reduced compared to those planned.

The Analysis of the budgets in Serbia is available following this link>>>

Besides the analysis of the budget of the Ministry of Health which was produced, DPNSEE has prepared and presented an analysis of the public calls for prevention of the Ministry of Health. This analysis is available following this link>>>.

 

First World atopic eczema day held in Serbia

National association Allergy and me

September 14 marks the 2nd European Atopic Eczema Awareness Day aimed to raise awareness and understanding of the disease and its impact on the people living with it. For the first time in Serbia, World atopic eczema day was held, in the city central park in Belgrade, organized by National association Allergy and me.

Host of the meeting was our colleague Snežana Šundić Vardić who leads the association.

During the event, free dermatologist examinations, educational and creative workshops for kids were conducted. This is a good example of developing an awareness of the health problems that are marginalized.

Atopic Eczema is a demanding disease and much tougher on patients than people understand. Intense and persistent itching is one of its most debilitating symptoms, leading to long-lasting pain. It nearly always restricts quality of life, impacts mental health and leads to the development of other diseases.

Each day, people living with atopic eczema experience how the disease impacts their lives beyond their skin. The new EFA Atopical Lives online photo exhibition introduces people living with atopic eczema and shows how the disease influences their daily activities and quality of life: eczema patients need to constantly adapt their daily lives to avoid additional skin irritation. They carefully choose ordinary activities such as cooking, playing sports, enjoying leisure-time or hobbies because their atopic skin requires preparation not to have symptoms worsen. Common consumer goods such as cosmetic and hygiene products, bedding or clothes are also part of their prevention strategies, leading to considerable extra-spending. The cost to get the care they need is too high: European severe atopic eczema patients spend on average 927, 12 € a year.

Atopic eczema often develops in childhood, but it can also appear in adulthood. It almost never comes alone but instead is linked to other atopic diseases: almost half of all eczema patients live with allergy to pollen, around a third have allergies to either house dust mites, animals or certain foods, and many life with asthma. The majority of mild atopic eczema patients can have their symptoms reduced thanks to moisturisers or corticosteroids. However, their recurring symptom cycles are not treated.

Snežana with visitors at the event

Chem-Sex and the City

On the occasion of the Global Day of Action of the “Support.” Don’t Punish” campaign and within the Pride Month, NGO Re Generation with the support of the Belgrade Pride Info Centre, in cooperation with the regional ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association, organized the premiere of the movie: “Chem-Sex and the city“. This short documentary was produced with the support of the Right Reporter Foundation and firstly presented at the Harm Reduction International 2019 conference in Portugal this April.

The movie is part of the activities Re Generation has related to public advocacy for awareness raising about problems related to psychoactive substances. The event marked the launch of an open dialogue about chemsex which will include mapping the needs to design appropriate services.

After the movie, Stefan Pejić from NGO Re Generation spoke on “ChemSex and what stands behind this phenomenon”, Zoran Milosavljević, independent researcher on “ChemSex in Serbia – Strategic (in) visibility of practice and its implications” and Amarillo Fecanji from ERA on “Regional perspectives and initial steps in mapping respond to the appearance of ChemSex”.

Planning for the future

Following the proposal from the General Assembly held in last December, Drug Policy Network South East Europe held a Strategic Workshop from 14 to 17 May 2019. The workshop was held in the Student Resort on Avala Mountain, nearby Belgrade.

At the Assembly, DPNSEE has analysed achievement of aims and objectives of the strategic plan adopted in 2016 and indicated in which way and by which activities the priorities will be followed in the next years. Now, the aim of the Workshop was to continue this process and define DPNSEE strategic priorities, goals and targets for the forthcoming period.

Representatives of all member organisations were invited to participate in the Workshop. 21 participants from 9 countries of the region gathered for a three-day workshop and worked in cooperation. The consultant which helped us to design the Workshop, facilitate work and structure the outcomes was Raminta Štuikyte.

In preparations for the Workshop, DPNSEE member organisations were invited to fill in a survey to present their situation and needs. In addition, a survey was offered to a variety of partners, from national drug agencies to regional and international organisations, to help us understand better the situation and trends in a wider context. The feedback was an important input for the Workshop.

Five priority areas were identified (working titles):

  • Optimisation of services
  • Financial sustainability
  • Regulating drugs
  • Human rights
  • Strengthening the network

For each of them, small groups were discussing questions: What kind of changes you want to see? What Network could do? (types of activities, partnerships…) Which are the priority countries for the issue from the region? Which member organisations could take the lead? Which are potential sources of funding? What should we do in the first two years.

Results of the Workshop are being processed and will be offered to all the member organisations for further development. Following the Workshop, we shall continue strategic work so that the new Strategic Plan is adopted at the annual General Assembly planned for the end of 2019.

Concert for decriminalisation

“The initiative to change the cannabis legislation” – Association IRKA, together with the Social cannabis club Beograd and cannabis vlog Domaćica, organised the Concert for Cannabis Decriminalisation on 4 May 2019, if front of the National Parliament in Belgrade, Serbia. The concert was dedicated to celebration of the International day for cannabis-related protests and events, known around the World as the “Weed Day”.

IRKA is the first official association advocating cannabis legalization in Serbia, founded in August 2013. Members are patients, their family members and all the citizens who want to help them achieve the ability to legally obtain and use cannabis and the extract of cannabis flowers in order to treat their conditions.

A selection of musicians, mainly reggae and rock musicians, performed from late afternoon to the midnight for hundreds of fans and much more people passing by.