Emergency situation concerning the sustainability of harm reduction services in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania

The three regional networks: Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Eurasian Harm reduction Network and Drug Policy Network South East Europe were informed by our members organisations about the situation with sustainability of  harm reduction services in Bosnia Herzegovina which is characterised by lack of strategy, policy and funding caused by the delay in establishing national Government for more than a year after the elections, withdrawal of international donors and misunderstandings and low level of cooperation between the governmental institutions and civil society, but also inside the civil society sector providing harm reduction services. The national Strategy for prevention and control of HIV and AIDS has ended (2016) and the Transition plan, developed by the Country Coordinating Mechanism during implementation of The Global Fund funded programme has not been implemented. As a result, the harm reduction services are closed in Sarajevo, Mostar, Bihać and Banja Luka and exist only in Zenica and Tuzla relaying on voluntary work of unpaid Staff and with all supplies already on minimum.

The three Networks expressed our deep concern about the situation and willingness to give contribution to finding solution and ensuring both quick response to the urgent needs and building a sustainable solution. We are ready to provide non-partisan support in identification and advocacy for the best possible approaches to urgently start provision of services to the populations of people who use drugs, sex workers and prisoners and other affected populations and to properly advocate for the sustainability of governmental funding.

The urgent action we are taking is to explore opportunities for emergency bridging funding to ensure survival of existing harm reduction services in the country. The situation is alarming and requires direct action and mobilisation of the international community. The three network have limited resources, so we are now contacting some of our partners and donors, explaining the situation and calling for immediate and urgent support. This could include short-term funding and technical support to ensure a minimum of harm reduction services. So far, we have a promise from the Open Society Foundations for a small grant which would cover basic need for the month of November.

We plan to develop and implement a comprehensive process to achieve sustainable long-term solutions. The activities for long-term solutions target local governments and policy-makers with the aim to ensure sustainable funding for harm reduction services. We already offered our expertise and support in this process, In addition, we would like to engage and involve other relevant stakeholders, such as donors and funders.

As the first concrete long term action we decide to send an appeal to the Global Fund to review their eligibility model of supporting middle income countries, besides Bosnia Herzegovina also Albania, Bulgaria and Romania.

In advance of the upcoming 42nd meeting of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) as well as the Global Fund Regional Meeting for Eastern Europe and Central Asia to take place in Istanbul on 26-27 November, 2019, we – civil society and community organisations and networks working in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region for the benefit of key affected populations, including people who use drugs – would like to express our profound concern as to the current lack of sustainable harm reduction services in the South East European countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania, respectively. Taking into consideration the successful results of the recent Sixth Replenishment Conference, we would like to invite the Global Fund to safeguard a part of the catalytic investment funds available for the 2020-2022, including multi-country grants, matching funds and strategic initiatives, in order to sustain life-saving services for people who inject drugs and other vulnerable groups and to incentivise domestic investment in harm reduction in each of these post-transition countries.

41 civil society organisations from Easter Europe and Central Asia supported the letter. We hope that the Global Fund shall understand the situation and support our proposal.

The letter to the Global Fund is available following this link>>>

 

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!

 

HIV prevention services for key populations started in Sofia after two years of interruption

Two years after the end of the HIV prevention programs for key populations funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the services started again with governmental funding. This long awaited moment will re-establish the contacts between the non-governmental organizations and the most vulnerable communities among which the epidemic was kept at low levels for many years thanks to the daily hard work.

The new activity is possible thanks to the implementation of a public procurement tender of the Ministry of Health announced at the end of 2018. In Sofia the tender winner is Consortium I.Z.I.  – a union of three non-governmental organization with extensive experience in working with key populations – Association “Health without Borders”, Initiative for Health Foundation and I Foundation.

It is envisaged that for a period of 12 months 800 people who inject drugs will receive safer injecting services (clean injecting equipment); 2100 MSM and 400 women and men sex workers will be reached with condoms and safer sex consultations. It is planned that 3.300 free and anonymous HIV tests will be provided in the three groups through outreach mobile services and in the Center for Sexual Health CheckPoint Sofia. The program includes also testing for syphilis and hepatitis C as well as specialized counselling and support for 100 people living with HIV. The contract amount is 166,310 BGN without VAT.

The renewal of the HIV prevention programs for key populations in Sofia is a very positive fact for several reasons. On one hand, without specialized services these populations stay outside of the health system and for some of them the outreach teams are the only connection with the health and social services helping them to receive counselling, referrals and support for many other health and social problems. In the last two years thanks to private funding it was possible to maintain the testing and indoor prevention services for men who have sex with men in CheckPoint Sofia, as well as support for people living with HIV. But due to the lacking outreach work for people who inject drugs and sex workers the spread of HIV in these groups is unknown at the moment. On the other hand, after the long years of solely international funding which made these programs possible, the starting of prevention services with governmental finances is an essential precedent bringing hope for the sustainability of the results achieved with the GFATM support.

The representatives of Consortium I.Z.I. evaluate positively the state support for HIV prevention in key populations, although they believe that the way to sustainability hasn’t been found yet. The period for which the services will be covered is short and the funding for Sofia is approximately ¼ of what was provided before by the GFATM. The deepest concern is related to the lack of a real sustainable mechanism for social contracting. The public procurement tender as a form of funding is a temporary decision which cannot ensure continuity of the services and turns the social work into a business service which brings substantial risks for its quality.

During the first day of operation, 35 people obtained a safe injection equipment from the service.

***

Association “Health without Borders” was established in 2004. It is specialized in counseling and testing services for HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections in key populations. It maintains a low-threshold medical center CheckPoint Sofia – Center for Sexual Health.

Initiative for Health Foundation was established in 1997. It is specialized in the provision of services for reduction of the harms of injecting drug use.

I Foundation was established in 2004. It is specialized in the provision of counseling and support services for people living with HIV.

Youth Studies South East Europe

The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) published reports on the experiences and aspirations of youth in Southeast Europe. The FES carried out a representative region-wide survey on a sample of more than 10.000 young people aged 14 – 29 from ten countries in Southeast Europe in early 2018.

“FES Youth Studies Southeast Europe 2018/2019” is an international youth research project carried out simultaneously in ten countries in Southeast Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. The main objective of the surveys has been to identify, describe and analyse attitudes of young people and patterns of behaviour in contemporary society.

A broad range of issues were addressed, including young peoples’ experiences and aspirations in different realms of life, such as education, employment, political participation, family relationships, leisure and use of information and communications technology, but also their values, attitudes and beliefs.

Findings are presented in ten national and one regional study and its accompanying policy papers, which have been published in both English and the respective national languages.

The most important results are grouped under headlines:

  • A wish to belong to Europe
  • Migration and mobility do not have to be zero-sum
  • Fighting corruption as a crime, not as a concept
  • Employment discourse shifting towards the quality of work
  • A different kind of ‘political’…
  • …which has to do with ‘the social’
  • Give youth a say in Europeanisation

To download the regional study and its accompanying policy papers following this link>>>

You can read the national studies at this webpage.

Global Fund eligibility list 2019

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has recently published its updated country eligibility list for 2019. The list reflects the eligibility determinations for the year 2019 (a non-allocation year) and is for information purposes only. Allocations are made once every three years following the outcomes of the Global Fund’s replenishment The 2020 Eligibility List will determine which country components are eligible for an allocation for the 2020-2022 allocation period.

SEE countries affected by changes are Bulgaria, Kosovo*, North Macedonia and Romania. Montenegro and Serbia remain eligible for HIV disease component due to high disease burden.

Bulgaria and Romania may be eligible for an allocation for HIV/AIDS for non-governmental or civil society organizations if there are demonstrated barriers to providing funding for interventions for key populations, as supported by the country’s epidemiology for the 2020-2022 allocation period.

Kosovo is newly classified as an Upper-Middle Income country based on the latest three-year average of GNI per capita data. As Kosovo’s HIV/AIDS and TB burden are ‘Not High’, both the HIV/AIDS and TB components are now eligible for Transition Funding for the 20202022 allocation period.

North Macedonia‘s HIV/AIDS disease burden classification changed to ‘Low’ in 2018 to ‘High’ in the 2019 Eligibility List, resulting in one determination of eligibility. Country components must be eligible for two consecutive eligibility determinations to be classified as eligible on the Eligibility List.

According to the GF Eligibility Policy “Upper-middle income countries meeting the disease burden criteria, but some may be eligible for an allocation for HIV/AIDS to directly finance non-governmental and civil society organizations, if there are demonstrated barriers to providing funding for interventions for key populations, as supported by the country’s epidemiology. Eligibility for funding under this provision will be assessed by the Secretariat as part of the decision-making process for allocations. As part of its assessment, the Secretariat, in consultation with UN and other partners as appropriate, will look at the overall human rights environment of the context with respect to key populations and specifically whether there are laws or policies which influence practices and seriously limit and/or restrict the provision of evidence-informed interventions for such populations”.

To read full document with the eligibility list follow this link>>>>

Two member organisations joined DPNSEE

At the DPNSEE General Assembly, held on 10th December 2018, in The Palace of Serbia, in Belgrade, Serbia, two new member organizations were accepted into the DPNSEE Network: Timok Youth Center (TOC) from Serbia and Center of Human Policy, from Bulgaria.

Both organizations were accepted by a unanimous decision of all present member organisations representatives.

Timok Youth Center (TOC) is a non-profit organization registered in Zaječar 2004. and operating on the territory of Zaječar, Timok region and the South -East Serbia. TOC agrees with the mission and vision of the DPNSEE and wants to actively promote the objective and open debate on the effectiveness, direction and maintenance of national, regional and international political drugs, and to promote constructive policy recommendations that lead to the adoption of human and effective drug policies in SEE.

Timočki Omladinski Centar

TOC is ready to actively engage with the creators of political and decision-making bodies in Serbia and in the region of Southeast Europe.

Timok Youth Center is an organization that is recognized at the local as well as at the national level when it comes to the fight against addiction, and above all the fight against drug abuse. Preventive programs that are implemented, and which concern addiction diseases, are mostly oriented towards young people, especially with youth at risk. TOC think that the young people from 15 to 30, as a sensitive category of the population, are especially affected by the problem of drug abuse. The research that we have conducted on the territory of Zaječar district, in the last few years has shown that young people in most of these years most often try one of the drugs. Also, in the period from 2007 to 2014, TOC is an organization that worked within the Global Fund for Reducing HIV/AIDS in South East Serbia and developed a volunteer program dealing with this issue. They believe that intersectoral and partner cooperation in prevention programs and harm reduction programs are very important and we have good cooperation with local municipalities and ministries. TOC’s work has been recognized by the The Office against drugs of Republic Serbia, with which we have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation.

Center for Humane Policy was created in 2016 by leading experts in drug addictions and drug policy field in Bulgaria. The main goals of the organization are to promote, facilitate and support development of effective, evidence based methods and policies in the field of public health, social care and education.

The organization is a member of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and the chair of the Center is also co-chair of the Steering committee of the network. Center for Human Policy is very good in understanding the importance of working together with organizations from different countries to improve the drug policy situation in the region.

During the last year the organization focused their efforts on the implementation of “Preventure” in the country. It is a school-based intervention aimed at reducing adolescent drug and alcohol use in high-risk teenagers.

Nowadays Center for Humane policy relies on two experts, trained in Canada by the inventor of the Preventure methodology – Patricia J Conrod from the University of Montreal. Also the organization has personal support of professor Conrod to implement the intervention system in the country.

Center for Humane policy also builds networks with the authorities to ensure the sustainability for fereb=nt implementation of good practices, and they have the support of the Secretary of National Council on Narcotic Substances and the Vice-Minister of Ministry of Health.

Together with these activities, the organization prepares statements, reports and analyses regarding the efficiency of Harm reduction, Opioid Substitution therapy, HIV and drug treatment policies.

Bulgaria back to the map of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign

After a year without the campaign, the Initiative for Health Foundation added Sofia to the list of participating cities in 2018.

The Foundation engaged a professional reporter to explain the content of the campaign, its story around the world and in Bulgaria. The article was published in the web-site and FB of Initiative for Health Foundation (where the article reached primarily 531 persons), in the web-portal of the Bulgarian non-governmental organizations NGOBG and in 4 online media.

A photo-frame for profile pictures was developed and distributed in Facebook for people who would support the campaign.

In addition, 80 t-shirts were produced with the campaign logo and were distributed during 4 events of Initiative for Health Foundation in the period 31 May – 26 June 2018: one public discussion, one networking seminar and two trainings.

Long list of activities in the Support. Don’t Punish campaign in South East Europe

On the occasion of the 26 June, The United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Global Day of Action of the Support. Don’t Punish Campaign is organised in more than 150 cities in the world. The Drug Policy Network South East Europe this year again coordinates activities of the campaign in South East Europe, where 10 of our member organizations are pushing actions in 9 countries and 11 cities.

To the launch the campaign, DPNSEE will organise “Kick-off event” in the EU Info Centre in Belgrade, Kralja Milana 7, on 21 June 2018 at 12:00. Representatives of the Network will present the current situation in the countries of South East Europe. To contribute to the campaign, DPNSEE will also present the baseline research on “Documenting Drug Related Cases of Discrimination”, an activity within the project “Strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations in South-East Europe and promote drug policy based on respect for human rights and public health”. Our guests will be Danilo Ćurčić from the A11 – Initiative for economic and social rights and Dr Hajrija Mujović, Vice -chair of the Association of Lawyers for Medical and Health Law of Serbia – SUPRAM.

Representatives of the Network will as well present the activities of the Network members in the countries of the region.

In Albania, on the 26th of June, Aksion Plus will organize awareness activities in two cities, Tirana and Durres. The activities will include sharing leaflets and information especially toyoung people. In their Opioid Substitution Therapy centres, they will organize small group discussions, outreach information, leaflets distribution, one to one conversations and counselling to raise their awareness on how to better protect their rights, as well as to provide referrals to other institutions in case they face violations from police, courts and law enforcement agencies. During campaign clients will be strongly encouraged and supported to fight for their rights and report to the organisation or to the People’s Advocate when they face violence or stigma, and messages of the campaign will be also communicated to the Government officials.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, organization Margina will organize events in city of Tuzla. That will include promotional activities, starting the campaign on 11th of June by screening documentary film “I want to wake up” with aim to point out the problem of education of young people and reducing stigma and discrimination against drug users. Other activities planned are Public Debate and Press Conference “CANTONAL INSTITUTION FOR DISEASES” – Why do we not have it? as introductory event to the entire day of action on 26th of June, that will also be presented through street action in city of Tuzla. In this event, following documents will be presented: Bosnia and Herzegovina National Drug Strategy 2018 – 2023, Policy to reduce drug use damage in the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina, Decisions of the Government and the Tuzla Canton Assembly on the establishment of the “Institute for Addiction of the Tuzla Canton”. The Association Margina is dedicating this day, as well as other days of the year, to people who have adopted this “lifestyle” with the aim of bringing the wider community closer to the addicted population and so additionally contribute to the reduction of stigma and discrimination.

Check out their facebook event and join the day of action:  https://www.facebook.com/events/407051669794756/

In Bulgaria, organization Initiative for Health Foundation will write and promote article, telling the story about the campaign worldwide and its implementation in Bulgaria in the last years. The article will be written by a professional journalist and popularized mostly in NGO platforms and other online channels. The organization will also develop a frame for a Facebook profile image and dissemination on social media consecutive counting of dissemination

To activate your facebook frame in the Bulgarian language go HERE

In Croatia, Organisation Terra will organise the Forum theatre performance on the problems of a former addict who is hindering discrimination due to his past. The play will be organised on the 26th of June, to mark the International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. The theatre will be played in the city of Rijeka, Croatia.

Check out their facebook event and join the day of action:  https://www.facebook.com/events/2087957514813170/

 

In Greece, in Athens, the action will be implemented by the NGOs Platform for Psychoactive Substances. This platform is an unofficial initiative for joint action among organizations working in the area of drug policy and psychoactive substances, currently consisting of the following organizations: Centre for Life, Diogenis, Peers Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances, Positive Voice, Praksis, Prometheus and Steps. This year the Greek NGO Platform for psychoactive substances will undertake the organization and implementation of the campaign in Greece.

They are organising an event on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at 7 pm, at the Athens Municipal Cellular Market (42, Fokionos Negris str) as an open dialogue regarding: current public health and drug policies applied in addressing the issue of psychoactive substances, the way users are being treated by the state and society, the issue of combating crime that accompanies drug use by law enforcement, and finally the removal of unjustified social stereotypes at the expense of PWUD, the
importance for the provision of substantial support, as well as the need for equal, meaningful and substantial participation of users community in procedures totally concerning them.
The event will be followed by participation of Mrs. Katerina Konidari, psychologist, social researcher, and writer, who will talk about the representation of addiction treatment on art; Mr. Michalis Lolis, Police Lieutenant of the A’ (First) Police Department for Combating Racist Violence, who will communicate his experience on human rights’ issues and the protection of people with different identities and Mr. Yannis Kissas, representative of the Peer Network of Users  psychoactive Substances, who will specifically refer to the Network’s proposals for supportive policies rather than the punishment of drug users. The discussion will be co-chaired and coordinated by Mr. Christos Anastasiou, member of the Peer Network of Users Psychoactive Substances.

You can find the full press release in English HERE  or on Greek HERE

To get involved:

Like their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/supportdontpunishGreece/

Join their facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/179003616107047/

Follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/support.dont.punish_greece_/

In Macedonia, organisation HOPS will to focus on recreational drug use, harm reduction and human rights. The central event will be organized in Skopje, as a public debate/panel on the health and legal aspects of recreational drug use and harm reduction. Activists, experts, decisions and opinion makers will take part in the debate, which will also be streamed online. In addition, IEC materials will be produced containing information on practices for reducing harms from recreational drug use, as well as personal rights. The 3 different leaflets will be promoted during the public debate and will be later distributed during the field activities at music events. All activities will be supported by a social media campaign aimed to inform a wider audience on harm reduction practices and raise public awareness about human rights.

Check out their facebook event and join the day of action: https://www.facebook.com/events/1632706273514505/

 

In Montenegro, organisations Juventas and Link will organize several activities such as Street movie projection nights, on the 26th of June and screen a documentary by Drugreporter that would be premiered during the campaign. The documentary is following the work of our two NGOs, talking about the implementation of the Harm Reduction Program in Montenegro, most of all covering the story of the work and struggles of the Drop in centres for people who use drug and sex workers and our outreach work. Documentary is also talking about the challenges that NGO Juventas and NGO Link face in daily work with clients and in the partnering institutions. In addition to this documentary, other documentary films of the NGO’s that are conducting Harm Reduction program in the region are planned to be screened, as well as some cult films that correspond to the topic.

During the campaign the project team will set up an information stand at one of the University of Montenegro’s Faculty in order to influence on young people, share with them message of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign, as well as information about the harm reduction program itself and the services provided by NGOs Juventas and Link. NGOs will distribute information to media and ensure national media coverage.

Check out their facebook event and join the day of action: https://www.facebook.com/events/251897252232425/

 

In Romania, this year Romanian Harm Reduction Network alongside with other two member organisations of DPNSEE,  ARAS and ALIAT will organize a series of activities to mark the Global Day of Action and participate in the campaign. They vary from online consultations with people who use drugs on changes to be made to the law 143/2000 on preventing and combating trafficking and illicit drugs use, using iterative-designed videos online to presents law 143/2000 and others laws on drugs in Europe. They will also organize a consultation meeting with representatives of NGOs providing services (prevention, harm reduction, treatment) for people who use drugs on the changes to be made to the law 143/2000 on preventing and combating trafficking and illicit drugs use, organize a “lawkathon” (working session) with lawyers from LGBT, human rights, Roma, education, feminist and/or housing NGOs to formulate the amendments to the law 143/2000 on preventing and combating trafficking and illicit drugs use, according to the proposals made by people who use drugs and NGOs providing services during the consultations, organize a round-table/meeting with representatives from various ministries on the proposal to amend the law 143/2000 on preventing and combating trafficking and illicit drugs use. Last but not least there will be organized flashmob/short event at the Parliament building to raise awareness on the proposal to amend the law 143/2000 on preventing and combating trafficking and illicit drugs use.

In addition to the activities listed above, they are planning on connecting a series of other events financed through private sources to raise awareness on stigma associated with substance use and addiction, under the same harm reduction / Support. Don’t Punish umbrella.

The facebook event to join the action is: https://www.facebook.com/events/179830952686479/

 

In Serbia, NGO Prevent will implement action Support. Don’t Punish for the fourth time in Novi Sad. Campaign will start on 20th June when the media were informed about the action. Prevent will spread information through social networks and during campaign reach over 30 thousand people in this way. Prevent also announced the competition for the best short video on the topic Support. Don’t. Punish which will be the official promo video of their Association for participation in a global campaign marking International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 26th of June.

To follow up their camapaign and street action find more information on their facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/preventns/

 

NGO Re Generation, together with Drugstore Belgrade, announcing the Global Day of action within the campaign Support. Don’t Punish, are organizing an event that will start the cooperation of this club and this organization in order to create safer nightlife, which is the first of this kind in Serbia. After recent events in Europe that have been linked to drug policy and nightlife, NGO Re Generation and Drugstore decided to launch higher-level cooperation within the framework of the Global Day of Action, in order to influence the change of awareness and the change in drug policies in general. Joining the campaign, Re Generation and Drugstore want to express sincere concern and start the program, present the activities within the cooperation with which they start their own struggle for safer, better quality and better night environment that we are all part of!

Join their event and support the healthy nightlife settings:  https://www.facebook.com/events/278127766064145/

 

HIV and TB Prevention in Sofia and Bulgaria

“HIV and TB Prevention in Sofia and Bulgaria – Assessment of the Situation” is a report that was created under the project “Fast-track TB/HIV responses for key populations in EECA cities”. It is a regional project funded by the Global Fund, which unites the efforts of five EECA cities (Almaty, Beltsi, Odesa, Sofia and Tbilisi) to achieve sustainable city-level policies for prevention of HIV and TB. The project is coordinated by the Ukraine Alliance for Public Health. In Sofia, Bulgaria, the local coordinators are Initiative for Heath Foundation and Association “Health without Borders”.

The main objective of the report is to bring together all the available information regarding the prevention of HIV and TB in Sofia and Bulgaria and to provide it to the decision makers. The report should be used as a base for the development of a Sofia city strategy on HIV and TB, which has not been developed so far.

The evaluation was conducted in the period July – September 2017 through: analysis of data provided by the Ministry of Health and experts of the Sofia Municipality and the National Centre for Addictions; analysis of documents and previous reports; qualitative methods (interviews and focus groups with vulnerable communities and professionals); mapping of services. The results outline the gaps in service provision related to the withdrawal of the Global Fund and confirm the need of an adequate national and city responses. The book is an author’s interpretation of the data gathered through the common assessment methodology of the project.

Full report in Bulgarian and a summary in English can be found at:
http://www.initiativeforhealth.org/blog/2017/12/12/nov-doklad-s-otsenka-na-nuzhdite/

Another good news from Bulgaria is that on 21 December 2017 the City Council of Sofia adopted the new members of the Municipal Committee on prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. With this act the municipality practically re-established the Committee and gave it a new start, after few years of inaction. The Committee will consist of representatives of the City Council of Sofia, municipal administration, other relevant state and municipal institutions and NGOs.

The first meeting of the new Committee is planned for January when it is expected to give start to the development of a city HIV strategy.

The act of the re-establishment of the Committee was intensively supported through the partnerships within the project Fast-track TB/HIV responses for key populations in EECA cities, involving coordinating NGOs in Sofia and the representatives of the key populations networks.

We are growing – three new DPNSEE member organisations!

During the country visits to FYRO Macedonia (December 2016), Croatia (March 2017) and Bulgaria (2017), DPNSEE membership was promoted as the potential for exchange, partnerships and joint work. Following these promotions, application for membership came from:

  • Coalition ‘Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities’, Skopje, FYRO Macedonia
  • Terra, Rijeka, Croatia
  • Initiative for Health Foundation, Sofia, Bulgaria

In accordance with the Statutes, the DPNSEE Board supported the applications and called the Extraordinary Electronic General Assembly of the Network to vote about the applications.

The Assembly was held from 19 July at 14:00 to 20 July 2017 at 14:00. 12 out of 19 member organisations participated in the extraordinary General Assembly, all voting in favour of the proposals. The three organisations are now ordinary members of the Network which now has 22 member organisations in 11 countries.

The Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” promotes protection and respect of the fundamental human rights of marginalized communities, with focus on LGBTI persons, drug users, people living with HIV, sex workers and marginalized women. The Coalition focuses on advocacy, research and analysis, inclusion of the marginalized communities in the creation and implementation of the policies, education of all the relevant actors, promotion of the cultural practices of the marginalized communities, as well as networking and building alliances with the civil society.

Terra association is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1998. on the initiative of a group of experts (medical doctors, pedagogue, psychologist, social workers) involved in work of several local institutions (Red cross, Clinic Hospital Centre in Rijeka) and foreign organizations (IFRC, UNHCR). At the end of 2000, the association initiated “Reduction of the health and social effect of drug abuse Program”) with the great emphasis on proactive education, field work and including different target groups, wider population and community on account of omnipresent problem of drug abuse. The program has been launched as an answer to the growing epidemic of addiction and a real threat of spreading HIV/AIDS among the addicts, that comes as a result of sharing used needles and cookers, and accordingly, by sexual intercourse, on wider population.

Initiative for Health Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, registered under the Bulgarian law. The mission of the foundation is to improve public health by supporting people in health and social risk to be better informed, more responsible and independent. Our goal is to prevent the spread of HIV through the development of evidence-based social and health services. We aim to be an autonomic, stable and recognizable organization with a highly competent team. We work for legislation change and for public and political support of our cause.