Challenges and perspectives in the field of addiction prevention – the first expert conference about contemporary approaches and models of work with children and youth in Bosnia Herzegovina was held on 26 and 27 of June 2019 in Sarajevo. Association for addiction prevention NARKO-NE within the RIPPO network organised the conference with the support of the Ministry of civil affairs, Ministry of human rights and refugees and Ministry of security.
The conference aimed to focus on the importance of an inter-sectorial approach, to sensitize the general public to problems of addictive and risky behaviours and to contribute to the professionalization and multidisciplinary development of the respective field in Bosnia Herzegovina.
The main conclusion of the Conference is that a joint work, as the society, is needed to create a safe environment, but that there are too much organisations and institutions that work on the issues of prevention and that they are not equally distributed.
Besides plenary inputs and discussions, 18 workshops were offered to participants. Among them, the DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević run one on Models of addiction prevention on environmental (structural) level. During the workshop, DPNSEE and its member organisations activities on strategies and action plans development and improving legislation on drug policy in countries of South East Europe were presented.
More information about the Conference are available on the website konferencija.prevencija.ba – including all the presentations which will be posted by the end of July.
The Office for combating drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia organised a conference in occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Belgrade on 26 June 2019. Representatives of international organisations, governmental institutions, civil society and media joined to hear about latest experiences and successful stories in fighting drug abuse and support to the people who use drugs.
After the welcome and introductory speech from the Director of the Office Milan Pekić, presentation followed:
A comparative analysis of the statistic data about drug seizures in 2018 – Radomir Popović, Office for combating drugs
Modern approach to treatment and curing drug addiction – Dr Diana Raketić, Special hospital for addictions
Psycho-social interventions and re-integration process of people with drug disorder in Serbia – Milka Kalaba, The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy
Misuse of drugs in adolescence – Dr Svetislav Mitrović, Institute for mental health
New psychoactive substances and new trends in drug use – Dr Jelena Janković, Ministry of Health
Treatment of addiction of people in prisons – Dr Maja Paunović, Special prison hospital
Role of media in drug prevention and fighting stigma of ex-drug addicts – Mladen Mijatović, Member of the Committee for fighting narcomania in schools
The civil society had an important role too with Aleksandar Žugić from the Association Izlazak presenting Evaluation of multi-sectorial meetings they held in local communities, while Irena Molnar from NGO Re Generacija spoke about the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign. She also presented the results of the research on “Discrimination of people who use drugs” prepared by DPNSEE.
The conclusion of the conference is that cooperation between different stakeholders is very much needed, as well as education of people from different professions (health workers, police, teachers and others, including civil society activists) on drug addiction and human rights.
329 NGOs call for global leadership to halt global public health emergency and to end egregious human rights violations against people who use drugs.
As the 26th International Harm Reduction Conference comes to a close, hundreds of health professionals, academics, drug policy and human rights experts, frontline workers and people who use drugs released a statement calling on world leaders to urgently address the health and human rights crisis among people who use drugs.
Signatory NGOs shed light on the alarming public health emergency faced by people who use drugs. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of drug-related deaths rose by a worrying 60%. In 2015 alone, this culminated in a total of 450,000 deaths – an estimated 50 deaths every hour. The target to halve the incidence of HIV among people who inject drugs by 2015, set eight years ago, was spectacularly missed by 80%, and HIV prevalence increased by one third among people who inject drugs over the same period. Furthermore, globally, six in ten people who use drugs are living with hepatitis C, while 168,000 people who use drugs were reported to have died of an overdose in 2015 alone.
These health harms are preventable. The evidence, presented at the Conference this week, shows that harm reduction and human rights-centred drug policies can save lives, prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and promote the dignity and empowerment of people who use drugs. But this requires leadership from both governments and the UN.
Naomi Burke-Shyne, Executive Director of Harm Reduction International (HRI), said: ‘The evidence for harm reduction is indisputable. It is nothing short of disgraceful that governments continue to fail to support and invest in health services for some of the most marginalised people’.
The joint NGO statement also expresses serious concerns over the ability of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to adequately lead the UN response on this issue. By its very mandate and construction, the UNODC remains more attuned to the law enforcement response to drugs. As a result, UNODC leadership has consistently failed to unequivocally champion harm reduction, human rights and decriminalisation, and has lost further creditability with repeated silence in face of egregious human rights violations. Today, people who use drugs continue to be victims of incarceration, compulsory detention, denial of access to healthcare, corporal punishment, institutionalised violence, stigma and discriminations, and – in the most extreme cases – extrajudicial killings.
In response to the vacuum of political leadership, NGOs conveying in Porto have called for global leadership to protect the human rights of a ‘population under attack’ and demanded that these unacceptable human rights abuses to come to an end.
Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), stated: ‘just over ten years left for countries to meet their global commitment to champion health, reduce inequalities, and provide access to justice for all, as enshrined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, there has never been a more urgent need to strengthen political leadership at all levels. Faced with the current crisis, complacency can no longer be tolerated’.
Held once every two years in a different country around the world, the Harm Reduction International Conference is the only global meeting for knowledge-sharing, networking, and discussion of best practices in the field of harm reduction. The last conference in Montreal in 2017 was attended by more than 1000 delegates from over 70 countries, including medical and policy experts, harm reduction practitioners, campaigners, and people who use drugs.
On Tuesday 30 April, at the Concurrent 16: Lost in Transition: Harm Reduction in Central and Eastern Europe, our Yuliya Georgieva from the Center for Humane Policy will speak about, Lost in Transition-Bulgaria struggling to ensure harm reduction activities after Global Fund withdraw while Nebojša Đurasović will present The only one harm reduction program that survived in Serbia – Experience of the Association Prevent.
Those who shall participate in the Conference are very much welcome to join this session.
Association for addiction prevention NARKO-NE, within the RIPPO network and in cooperation with the Ministry of civil affairs BiH, Ministry of human rights and refugees BiH and Ministry of security BiH, organises the first expert conference in the field of addiction prevention on 26 and 27 June 2019 in Sarajevo.
The conference wants to focus on the importance of an inter-sectoral approach, to sensitize the general public to problems of addictive and risky behaviours and to contribute to the professionalization and multidisciplinary development of the respective field in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Participants of the conference will have the opportunity to learn about different approaches of addiction prevention in Europe, to exchange good practices, and to learn about mechanisms which ensure the efficiency and quality of interventions themselves.
All information about this event including the process of participant’s registration is available on the website konferencija.prevencija.ba
Club health Amsterdam 2019 is the 11th international conference on nightlife, substance use and related health issues, to be held in Amsterdam, 15 – 17 May 2019.
The event marks 20 years of international club health conferences. The 1st International Conference on Nightlife, Substance Use and Related Health Issues was held in Amsterdam in 1999. Club Health conferences have since been held bi-annually in Australia, North America and throughout Europe. The 11th International Conference on Nightlife, Substance Use and Related Health Issues returns to Amsterdam in May 2019. By hosting Club Health Amsterdam 2019, the partners which organise it Jellinek, GGD Amsterdam and the City of Amsterdam want to demonstrate how partnerships and cooperation between stakeholders can be both productive and rewarding.
The objectives of Club Health Amsterdam 2019 include:
To develop understanding of the impacts of nightlife activity and the necessity for creating and maintaining safe and healthy nightlife environments
To facilitate the implementation of effective, evidence-based policies, interventions and approaches in nightlife environments that can reduce potential harms
To improve knowledge and expertise about how nightlife environments and settings can be developed, managed and sustained effectively
To promote multi-agency partnerships and networks at local, national, European and international levels
Club Health brings together experts and stakeholders from a wide range of fields to present, meet and exchange experiences, evidence and views on the latest research, policy and practice relating to protecting and promoting health in urban night-time settings. Previous conferences have developed and/or enhanced a powerful inter-disciplinary international network of academics and practitioners, resulting in European and international research and practice collaborations.
Club Health Amsterdam 2019 will be relevant and of interest to municipal and state policy makers, public health planners, medical and nursing practitioners, drug and alcohol service providers, criminologists, local authorities, transport sector and government agencies, representatives of the various nightlife industries and citizens and customers using or affected by the night-time economy.
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.
The Union of Organizations of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Serbia (USOP) hosted the international conference on Sustainable Services for PLHIV and HIV Prevention in Belgrade on November 28, 2018. This one-day conference supported by UNDP Programme in Serbia gathered 110 relevant stakeholders from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro in an attempt to move the PLHIV service agenda forward through co-thinking and cross-sectorial experience exchange.
The Conference Sustainable Services for PLHIV and HIV Prevention contributed an important piece to the puzzle of PLHIV’s health, social, economic, and overall well-being in Serbia and the region by opening up a dialogue on the cost of services for PLHIV. Through active interactions between practitioners in key sectors, public officials, service providers and service users, the conference shed a new light on prevention of HIV infection and, specifically the role of PLHIV organizations in community resilience building.
Participants agreed that investments in development of standards and services, training of service providers, piloting and testing should be respected, recognized and more readily considered by the welfare systems through urgent development of formal standards that will lead to effective service mainstreaming and access to regular service funding. In the meantime, project funding remains an interim solution but one that clearly threatens sustainability and quality of services.
With the support from the Open Society Foundations, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe organised the South East Europe Meeting on 20 November in Bucharest, Romania, prior to the 4th European Harm Reduction Conference. The event aimed to get together activists working on harm reduction services, exchange experiences and promising ideas for the future, meet with international partners and discuss future opportunities for collaboration. 36 representatives of harm reduction organisations and institutions from countries of the region and from various international organisations attended this meeting: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
Nebojša Đurasović, Vice-President of the DPNSEE Board opened the Meeting with welcome note and agenda review and announced first session Where is South East Europe now? Sofia Galinaki from Diogenis, the member of the IDPC Members’ Advisory Council, moderated this session. She presented the results of the Harm Reduction Survey. Dragoş Roşca, Romanian Harm Reduction Network, continued this session and spoke about current situation in Romania, Denis Dadajić, from Margina, explained situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Silvana Naumova from HOPS, presented current situation in Macedonia.
Facilitating the second session What do we actually do?, DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević, reminded on some dilemmas, including those of quality in the times of transition and integrated services for all vs. those specific for key sub-populations. Ivica Cekovski from HOPS spoke about the concept of quality in Macedonia. The session continued with Dr Vera Kerleta-Tuzović, Agency for Healthcare Quality and Accreditation in FBiH who presented accreditation of drop-in centres Bosnia and Herzegovina and session was closed with Tomaž Koren, from Alliance of NGOs for Drugs and Addictions, from Slovenia, who talked about quality of services in Slovenia, with special view on harm reduction in nightlife and festival settings.
The pre-conference meeting continued with third session that was moderated by Jelena Čolaković, from the DPNSEE member organisation Juventas, Montenegro. The speakers crossed over specific topic Where do we go from here? and was centred around opportunities for collaboration, including a regional program on sustainability supported by the Global Fund. Vladan Golubovic, from Chairman sent a presentation about the Regional Coordinating Mechanism. Tetyana Deshko, from Alliance for Public Health presented upcoming Global Fund supported regional project “Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region”. Then, Mišo Pejković from Cazas spoke about experiences in cooperation in the region. The session was closed by Amarildo Fecanji, from ERA, who talked about potential cooperation between the networks and organisations.
At the last session What else we need to talk about? Ganna Dovbakh from Eurasian Harm Reduction Association emphasized potentials for advocacy in the process of EU Enlargement on national level.
Closing the Meeting, Nebojša Đurasović thanked all for contributing to the Meeting which he found successful. He noted a very friendly and open atmosphere and hoped that the experiences and ideas presented will be a good basis for future cooperation and partnerships.
Photos: Snežana Šundić – Vardić and Sanja Đurasović
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.
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.
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
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!
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>>>
You can follow all of the #AIDS2018 action throughout the week:
Live streaming: Watch the live stream of the opening and closing ceremonies, the plenary sessions, special sessions and official press conferences http://www.aids2018.org/Live
Facebook: AIDS 2018 Live! Tune into live sessions featuring conversations with experts, advocates and news makers from the conference https://manychat.com/l1/HIVgov