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.

How have closing of services affected drug users?

DPNSEE member organisation Re Generacija implemented the survey “Access to services of ex-users of the needle and syringe programme closed in Belgrade and Budapest” with the support of the Rights Reporter Foundation. Aim of the survey, implemented in 2018, was to analyse the consequences of closing the services and the effects that it has on risks and daily life of injecting drug users. Objectives included to reach out to the service users and learning about their current use of substances, mapping their access to services, sterile injecting equipment and analysing their perception of the closure of services and most important currently missing service. The conference was also an opportunity to discuss the current situation with recently established outreach programmes, as well as opioid substitution therapy and early warning system for new psychoactive substances.

The results of the survey were presented today at the conference organised together with the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia. The conference was held in the Palace of Serbia, with participants coming from both governmental and civil society sectors.

Two major groups of users were approached by the survey: drug users which were using the services for a long time and Roma people. A typical drug user both in Belgrade and Budapest is male, in mid-forties, with low education and income. In Budapest, users mainly use new psychoactive substances (synthetic cathinones), while in Belgrade they mainly use opioids (heroine). One of the main conclusion from the survey is that closing the services caused even more difficulties to reach out to drug users who are usually very suspicious.

To get more information and results of the survey, please contact Re Generacija following this link>>>>.

Project partners meeting

The meeting of the partners in the EU Funded project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South Eastern Europe” was held in Belgrade, Serbia, on Monday, 10 December 2018. This was the last meeting of the project which lasted for 4 years, supported by the European Commission DG Near.

The partners approved the minutes from the recent meeting, held on 12 September by Skype, and partners informed about the recent activities.

Margina has finished with the activities of the programme. Prevent has yet to implement a press conference, most probably in Belgrade by the end of the year. Diogenis has finished with the activities of the programme, except from the last newsletter. Olga Pateraki informed the partners of the reallocation regarding the budget of Diogenis, in order to translate in Greek and print the booklet “Drug Policy reform, The UNGASS 2016 a catalyst for change”.

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milosevic informed the partners about the activities that has been implemented during this period: the country visits in Romania and in Greece, the General Assembly that took place in Belgrade, the capacity building that was held during September, the Resource Centre and the Glossary. The Glossary has been printed and there is in English, Spanish and Serbo-Croatian, with the intention to be translated also in other languages. The discrimination paper has been started but not reached yet the desired recorded cases.

The partners have agreed to send all their final financial reports by the 10th of January to Diogenis in order to prepare the final financial report, who is collecting and preparing the reports. The financial report will be also in a format of detailed breakdown that the EC asks along with the final report. The reports of the activities will be also sent to Diogenis in order to compile them for the final report in January.