News on COVID-19 from the region

DPNSEE publishes here news from our member organisations and countries of South East Europe related to outbreak of the corona virus COVID-19 in the region.

10 August

DPNSEE President Nebojša Đurasović participated in one of the Facilitated Groups focused on Western Balkans to investigate the Impact on drug use and patterns and drug-related harms organised by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

6 August

DPNSEE hosted the Donor conference for vulnerable populations in South East Europe on Thursday 6 August 2020. The aim of the Conference was to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes. 47 representatives of civil society organisations, international organisations and donor community participated.

More about the Conference is available following this link>>>.

16 July

DPNSEE held today the Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them?” with support of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions and Correlation – Harm Reduction Network.

1 July

Montenegrin civil society organisations and DPNSEE members Cazas and Juventas warned that “The coronavirus epidemic should not distract from the need for effective HIV harm reduction and prevention programs, as quality and sustainable prevention programs yield excellent results in controlling the HIV epidemic among vulnerable populations”. More in the article (in Montenegrin) following this link>>>.

22 June

Philanthropy, supported by the Government of Switzerland, continued providing humanitarian assistance to beneficiaries exposed to higher risk of COVID-19 infection. COVID-19, lasting longer than three months in Serbia, additionally threatened material and health well-being of families exposed to poverty. In collaboration with the Centres for Social Work, village councils and associations of pensioners, Philanthropy organised distribution of food, personal hygiene items and sanitation material for 950 families in Kragujevac, Kraljevo and Belgrade. Assistance was provided to older persons living in rural areas, persons living with chronic diseases, persons at risk of homelessness and persons living with HIV/AIDS.

19 June

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe coordinates activities of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign in South East Europe around the Global Day of Action 26 June – which is also the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The list of activities in the campaign are in the news you can find here>>>.

13 June

DPNSEE Board member gave an excellent insight COVID-19 and harm reduction in Greece – observations from inside the scenery at the Correlation webpage. You can find it here>>>.

10 June

The Coalition prEUgovor presented today their Report on Progress of Serbia under chapters 23 and 24 of the European Union accession negotiations – May 2020. The report indicates, among others, that “Restricted movement and slowed-down work of institutions affected especially vulnerable groups“. Read more in our news here>>>.

8 June

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević spoke this morning at TV Pink about involvement of South East Europe in drug related criminal worldwide. That included actual information about drug market during coronavirus outbreak.
(video in Serbian)

4 June

In scope of the Support. Don’t Punish global advocacy campaign calling for better drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights, DPNSEE launched a regional campaign using social media to spread messages around. We prepared a set of up to 20 messages with combination of quotes from Kofi Annan‘s speeches and appropriate photographs, ready for use in Facebook, Tweeter and Instagram. They will be posted throughout June 2020, most frequently around 26 June, the Global Day of Action of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign and the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

3 June

Denis Dedajić, the DPNSEE Vice-President and President of the member organisation Margina was one of the speakers at the webinar on “Outreach Work during the Covid-19 crisis” organised by Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network.

30 May

The Union of people living with HIV in Serbia held the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on Saturday 30 May to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. Organisation Philanthropy prepared packages with food and hygienic materials for PLHIV in hard living conditions hit by COVID-19. Read more at the news on our website here>>>.

27 May

SEE was mentioned quite a few times at the Roundtable “Responses to HIV and TB in times of COVID-19 – strengthening engagement with civil society and communities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” organized by Developing Country NGO delegation of the Global Fund Board and the Global Fund Secretariat. Miloš Perić, Program Coordinator at the Association Duga from Serbia and Silvia Asandi, General Director of the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation presented examples of good practice during the agenda point Maintaining and adapting HIV and TB responses.

24 May

The Institute for Public Health of Montenegro formally announced that there are no more people with COVID-19 in the country!

21 May

A coordination meeting on the Support. Don’t Punish campaign was held over Zoom. This year again, DPNSEE will coordinate the campaign in the region. It will also contribute to the efforts on ensuring sustainability of the services to people who use drugs which may be jeopardised due to coronavirus outbreak.

***

Just after our meeting, the “Countdown to the Global Day of Action” webinar was held, organised by the campaign organisers. aimed for us for discussions on community mobilisation ahead of the SDP Global Day of Action.

19 May

The Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia obtained funds for protective material against coronavirus intended for vulnerable social groups. Representatives of the civil society organizations that are in direct contact with over 400 members of vulnerable categories received masks, gloves and disinfectants.

17 May

Association Duga from Šabac, Serbia, launched a web campaign to collect funds for urgent support to vulnerable populations: food and hygienic material. More at the campaign web page here>>>.

15 May

The Union of Organizations of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Serbia (USOP) published a very practical brochure on “What do people living with HIV need to know about the new Coronavirus called COVID-19?” with the support from the French Embassy in Serbia. The brochure is available in Serbian, English and French.

13 May

Association Margina re-opened their drop-in centres, in Tuzla and now in the new premises in Zenica, Bosnia Herzegovina. Users can enter only one at a time, obligatory with masks and gloves.

12 May

Starting May 15th (end of the state of emergency in Romania), ARAS will reopen its outreach activities and will open the drop in centre for 5 days a week (instead of 2, as it was during the emergency state). ARAS reached out to all public institutions with responsibilities in the medical/social fields: we offered out expertise, knowledge and human resources to support the fight against COVID19 in the vulnerable communities of Bucharest. Discussions have started with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and with the city hall of one sector of the City. They plan to distribute masks to all our beneficiaries in our services, if they manage to find the necessary funding for this.

11 May

The Prevent Association signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health of Serbia for implementation of the harm reduction program for 2020 and started working on 11 May. Field work was renewed and a drop in centre was opened.

8 May

Civica Mobilitas Macedonia awarded five organisations with grants for fighting coronavirus in the areas of marginalized communities, education, human rights and children, youth and students. Our member organisation HOPS is one of the granted organisations for their humanitarian action for people and children who use drugs, as well as sex workers and their families.

7 May

Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions in Slovenia is currently in preparation for a new questionnaire for their members about COVID-19 and supply for its next phase. The results are expected in the second part of May 2020.

6 May

Civil society organisations from North Macedonia extended a public protest for untimely and inappropriate behaviour of institutions in solving the problems of vulnerable and marginalized communities. Read the protest (in Macedonian) here>>>.

4 May

Drop-in centre of the organisation Juventas returns to regular working hours from today.

3 May

Promising news from the region!

For the first time after the outbreak in the country (4 March, almost two months ago), there were no new cases of coronavirus infection in Slovenia. A great and promising news>>>

There were no new cases in Montenegro for the last 4 days.

In the Tuzla canton, in Bosnia Herzegovina, there were no new case for 18 days. All those who have been infected are cured – the last one left hospital this morning.

2 May

Prometheus reports about the Streetwork Project and crowdfounding campaign they have launched to raise food, bottled water, juices, snacks, protective medical material (masks, gloves, antiseptics) and personal hygiene items for homeless people in Athens and Thessaloniki >>>.

30 April

Drop-in centre of the Association Terra, Croatia works according to the old working hours (from 10 am to 5 pm). All services are provided, but there is a limited number of people who can stay in the drop-in at the same time. Upon entry, users must disinfect their hands, shoes and wear a mask. We still distribute masks to users who do not have them. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of users since the introduction of public transport.

28 April

Talas – Serbia based media portal “about politics, economy and ideas” published an article about effects of the coronavirus on people who use drugs in Serbia. The article is based on information published by DPNSEE and interviews with Milutin Milošević, our Executive Director, and Irena Molnar, the Executive Director of our member organisation Re Generacija. The article, in Serbia, is available here>>>.

27 April

The civil society organisations from Croatia started operating all harm reduction activities from 27 April 2020, still respecting all protective measures (use of masks, gloves, limited number of the person inside the space, etc.).

HELP are using only oral rapid test for HIV and hepatitis. Blood testing is still not recommended.

26 April

Terra, Croatia, just announced that they extend their working times. From tomorrow, their drop-in centre will be open every working day from 10 to 17. Needle exchange is still possible through the window. Clients can use showers and laundry. They can also enter the centre but only if their hands and shoes are disinfected at entrance and they wear masks, one at the time, for their personal hygienic needs. Daily shelter and kitchen are still not available.

23 April

DPNSEE held today the on-line Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe, with support of the Service for Combatting Drug Abuse at the Croatian Institute for Public Health and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC Programme Office in Serbia.

More than 60 representatives of civil society organisations, national drug agencies, international organisations and agencies and donor community participated.

22 April

On the initiative of the Municipality of Athens and in collaboration with organisations OKANA and KETHEA a shelter for homeless users of psychoactive substances opened its doors in Athens on 22 April 2020. Read more in the news here>>>.

***

The needle exchange programs in Bulgaria, which were closed on 16 March, re-opened in Sofia on 22 April.

21 April

Civil society organisations call the Government of North Macedonia to change their decision to drastically reduce financial support to the civil society. Read more in the news (in Macedonian) here>>>.

20 April

Denis Dedajić, President of the Association Margina from Bosnia and Herzegovina sent us a short summary of the situation from March 1 to April 10.

Read about it in the news on our website here>>>.

16 April

The Belgrade Centre for Security Policy published a report on criminal activities in the Western Balkans during the COVID-19 outbreak – Crime in the Western Balkans during the coronavirus – early findings. The report was prepared by their researcher Saša Đorđević.

With information we received from our member organisations from around the region, DPNSEE provided significant contribution to the report section that deals with Narcotics, but also general comments and proposals for recommendations.

Read more in the news here>>>

15 April

DPNSEE provided Duga with an amount of hygienic material, masks and food for vulnerable populations in their minicipality. Duga also managed to get bread as donation from the organisation Human Heart of Šabac.

The Duga team distributed 122 humanitarian packages to 251 people. Read more following this link>>>.

13 April

Greek organisations Positive Voice and Prometheus started street work to support vulnerable populations during the coronavirus outbreak. Read about it in the news on our webpage here>>>.

***

The meeting of the DPNSEE Board was held by Zoom on 13 April 2020. The meeting was scheduled to discuss the current situation related to outbreak of the coronavirus in South East Europe and plan future steps. The news from the meeting are available here>>>.

11 April

An update on activities related to coronavirus in Slovenia is presented in our news following this link>>>.

***

The extraordinary situation with coronavirus haven’t prevented Duga outreach team to continue HIV testing in cities around Serbia. On 9 April they have tested interested people in Kragujevac, Central Serbia, while the day after they went to Novi Sad in the Northern province of Vojvodina.

10 April

Timok Youth Centre from Serbia and DPNSEE continue translating and publishing UNODC documents in Serbian. Now this includes three infographics on COVID-19 – HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs:

Uloga zajednice (originally: The role of the communities, pdf 612KB)

Saveti za korisnike (Active tips to share with clients, pdf 632KB)

Saveti za pružaoce usluga (Advice for service providers, pdf 632KB)

***

DPNSEE concluded the round of video calls with member organisations, by countries, to discuss with them about:

  1. What is the coronavirus situation in your country regarding drug policy (especially how the officials treat our key populations)?
  2. What happens with the treatment of the key populations and which are their most important problems
  3. What is new with the drug supply and how the people who use drugs are dealing with it?
  4. How are your organisations dealing with the situations, your staff and their protection and other problems?

The information obtained will be used to plan future steps in responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

9 April

Aksion Plus published an information at their website on  Ensuring the continuity of service during pandemics! It includes information on What are the risks for people who use drugs (PWUD) during COVID-19 pandemics? and Preventive measures against COVID-19 transmission in environments frequented by PWUD

To download the text in Albanian, click here>>>.

***

Our newest member organisation Philanthropy, in collaboration with the City of Kragujevac, Serbia and the local Centre for Social Work, is opening the urgent shelter for socially vulnerable homeless people in Kragujevac. This service will enable protection of beneficiaries’ health well-being and prevent COVID-19 spreading.

DPNSEE managed to provide Philanthropy with an amount of hygienic material, masks and clothes for users of their centre.

8 April

DPNSEE had signed the “Protecting our co-workers during COVID-19: A Social Security Protocol for Civil Society” published by CIVICUS – a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Read about the Protocol here>>>.

***

Due to the current situation, Labyrinth‘s drop in centres on Kosovo in Prishtina, Gjilan and Prizren are now open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. All protective measures have been taken against the COVID-19 virus, including disinfection of the premises of their centres.

7 April

Organisation Terra from Rijeka provides food for homeless people. Their drop-in centre maintains needle exchange programme, but also gives away reusable masks and provides psychological support to people who use drugs and other vulnerable populations. Read more at the news following this link>>>

6 April

The Foundation for Open Society Macedonia, in cooperation with the Macedonian Red Cross, donated 100.000 USD for humanitarian support including food and hygienic packages for Roma population. It will be distributed to 2.000 families with around 10.000 people in 9 cities and villages across the country. Our member organisation HOPS will be among 6 civil society organisations that will organise the delivery.
More (in Macedonian) is available following this link>>>.

4 April

Organisation Institute from Pula, Croatia and company Neosalon Superius donated masks to Terra which will cover the needs of their clients.

3 April

Juventas strongly condemned the publication of the list with data on over 60 people suffering from COVID-19 and calls on the authorities to urgently find out how this serious incident occurred and stop similar human rights violations of Montenegrin citizens. Read their communique (in Montenegrin) here>>>.

2 April

We got a comprehensive information about activities of our member organisation Juventas from Montenegro about their activities on coronavirus outbreak. Have a look at http://dpnsee.org/2020/04/02/juventas-keeps-providing-services/

1 April

Four young volunteers from Prevent returned from the voluntary service in Cyprus by a special flight organised by the Government of Serbia. The plane also picked Serbian citizens from Thessaloniki.

After landing to Belgrade they were sent to a quarantine in the pupil’s campus “Patrijarh Pavle” where 11 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus – luckily, no one from the four Prevent volunteers. Yesterday, they were released home for a self-isolation.

We hope that they haven’t caught the virus and wish them to stay healthy.

***

ARAS translated and published in Romanian the INPUD’s instructions for protection against coronavirus for people who use drugs.

The version in Romanian is available at their website here>>>.

31 March

Timok Youth Centre from Serbia translated and published in Serbian the UNAIDS document “Suggestions about treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorder in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic“.

The version in Serbian is available at their website here>>>.

The original document is available at the UNAIDS website following this link>>>.

***

An information from HOPS – Options for healthy living Skopje on their services during COVID-19 is available following this link>>>.

30 March

The local users union PeersNups (Peer Network of Psychoactive Substances) translated into Greek and published INPUD’s brochure that provides advice on coronavirus people who use psychoactive substances.

28 March

HOPS from Macedonia closed their drop-in centres but delivers sterile equipment and other material on call. Their administrative staff works from home.

27 March

The practitioner in CAZAS, Montenegro Nikolina Tomović prepared the text on “Patient rights in the time of corona“. The text is available at their website here>>>.

26 March

Timok Youth Centre from Serbia translated and published in Serbian the UNAIDS leaflet “What people living with HIV need to know about HIV and COVID-19“.

The version in Serbian is available at their website here>>>.

The original document is available at the UNAIDS website following this link>>>.

***

Juventas from Montenegro is still providing services for PWUD/PWID, SW and former prisoners:

  1. Distribution and exchange sterile injecting equipment (needles, syringes, cookers, alcohol, tourniquets, distilled water) every day except weekend from 17h to 21h, and outreach once a week from 20 to 22h. They are now doing outreach just in Podgorica and in this week they have distributed bigger amount of equipment to our clients outside Podgorica, due to the new measures – ban of traffic between cities. They will distribute more, if needed.
  2. Distribution of condoms and lubricants, in above mentioned working hours.
  3. Washing and drying clothes service, every working day from 17h to 21h.
  4. Online consultations and consultations over the phone, with their peer workers, social workers doctor and psychologist.
  5. Lunch packages with essential groceries, once a week.

25 March

ARAS from Romania reported that they face the problem of drug users returning to Romania from Italy and wanting to enter the methadone treatment. But, they cannot accept new patients anymore, because this means a long period of coming daily to our centre and they cannot guarantee it will stay open.

23 March

Our member organisation Labyrinth from Kosovo sent us information about their activities related to coronavirus outbreak:

From the last week, we have temporarily closed the Drop in. Our clients can’t stay in premises of Labyrinth, but they continue to take all the services we have, especially the Methadone Maintenance Therapy. From this week 120 clients that are in programme of Methadone Maintenance Therapy are separated in three groups, and they take away methadone for one week.

Clients can take sterile equipment. We give them information how to protect themselves from covid 19, including IEC materials, gloves, disinfectant. Unfortunately we don’t have enough masks to give them.

We have temporarily interrupted the psycho-social services, outreach activities.

From this week only necessary staff is working. Also we have started to disinfect the Labyrinth premises.

21 March

ARAS translated into Romanian the UNAIDS leaflet “What people living with HIV need to know about HIV and COVID-19”.

This version is available at their website here>>>.

20 March

Organisations Cazas and Juventas published information and instructions for protection against coronavirus in Montenegrin.

18 March

Organisation Juventas from Podgorica, Montenegro prepared “homemade” bottles with alcohol for people who use drugs they serve because the shipment of alcohol wipes they ordered was blocked at the border. A great initiative and true commitment!

16 March

Team of the Association Duga from Šabac, Serbia, visited suburbs with Roma populations and various vulnerable populations to inform them about preventive measures against coronavirus. They dedicated special attention to those who recently returned from the areas with high epidemics – Italy, Germany and Austria – who either came to visit their families back home or returned from seasonal work (especially sex workers).

This action was supported by the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the West Balkans (ReLOaD), financed by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP Office in Serbia.

14 March

Together with our member organisations Prevent and Re Generation, DPNSEE have prepared information and instructions for protection against coronavirus in Serbian for people in risk from vulnerable populations we support. We used several sources: INPUD, Leafly, Crew and BesD. These instructions will be available in various institutions and civil society organisations in Serbia.

13 March

On the initiative from civil society organisations, following the DPNSEE Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19, a meeting was called by the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia to discuss the measures to protect people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups. The meeting was held on 13 March with representatives of the Office, Ministry of Health, Special Hospital for Addictions and four civil society organisations. News about the meeting is available following this link>>>.

12 March

DrogArt translated into Slovenian and published information and instructions for protection against coronavirus.

9 March

DPNSEE sent a new letter encouraging member organisations to continue their work and three leaflets we prepared that may be of use when working with key populations and staff:

  • Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus
  • Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus for drug users and
  • Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus for cannabis users

We offered support in translating and publishing the leaflets.

7 March

Association Margina from Tuzla, Bosnia Herzegovina had a meeting with the people who use drugs they serve. Besides general issues (creating a community organisation, initiative for opening a public institution for addictions and therapy in the Tuzla canton, etc.) a special part of the meeting was dedicated to prevention measures for coronavirus.

5 March

Association “Prevent” shared larger quantities of sterile equipment to the users and other key populations they support in Belgrade, to make sure that they have it and use it in case of restrictions of move which are expected.

2 March

DPNSEE published a Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19

Drug Policy Network South East Europe shares concern that the health systems may not have fully in their sight the key populations we are supporting (people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBTI and MSM, homeless, etc.) and that these populations, being side-lined in the community, may not be well informed about the threat and measures they should take to protects themselves.

28 February

Our colleagues from member organisation Terra, Rijeka, Croatia informed us that controls at the borders are reinforced, especially those with Italy. They keep informing users about the protection measures. The users show no sign of panic which is already present in some media. They give away vials with alcohol antiseptic. This is very important because most of the users they serve are homeless.

***

Slovenian authorities accepted the invitation from the Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions in Slovenia. The meeting is scheduled for Monday 2 March.

Luckily, there are no cases of corona virus in Slovenia.

27 February

The Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions in Slovenia send an invitation for a meeting with governmental institutions. The invitation was sent to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, National Institute for Public Health and Center for Treatment of Drug Addiction at Psychiatric Clinic Ljubljana.

***

Croatia confirms third case of corona virus infection, this time in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka where our member organisation Terra works – https://t.co/c3bApgAoJo. Our thoughts are with our colleagues there.

26 February

Last two days, the DPNSEE Board had on-line communications, including a few experts from inside the Network, on the threat of coronavirus outbreak in South East Europe following the first cases which appeared in neighbouring Italy. The first case of the virus were also reported in Croatia.

A Letter to member organisations inviting them to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak with brief instructions is being prepared and will be shared as soon as possible.

***

North Macedonia’s Health Ministry today confirmed the first case of a corona virus infection in the country – https://t.co/cHyFTqZgVt.

A woman from Skopje seems to have contracted the virus after returning from a one month stay in Italy. Our colleagues from HOPS and Coalition “Margini” operate in that city.

***

Greece’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, a 38-year-old woman admitted to a special ward at AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki, was reported to be in relatively good condition on Wednesday – https://t.co/dB1B0YWEwg

***

Our member organisation Cazas from Montenegro posted a tweet advising those interested to contact the national Institute for public health for more information about the corona virus.

Donors conference for vulnerable populations

The coronavirus outbreak has a devastating effect on general population around the world as well as on people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups – homeless people, sex workers, LGBTI, women and young people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, people living with HIV and many others. These populations generally have limited or no access to health services, social benefits, clean water and food. Current situation multiplies these obstacles and add new ones.

Since February, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe and our member organisations were primarily engaged on providing support dedicated to the practical strengthening of the health, social, economic and mental resilience of the vulnerable groups of citizens. That included harm reduction and treatment services, fighting stigma and discrimination, providing legal and social advices and responding to a variety of additional needs these groups now have.

During the Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe, held on 23 April 2020 and the Conference Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them? held on 17 July 2020, DPNSEE learned that it is time to invite wider donors’ community, from national, regional to international level, to ensure universal, efficient, sustained funding and coordination respond to the needs of the vulnerable populations in the region.

The global pandemic requires a global response, and that response has to cover all.

The aim of the Conference is to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes. The Conference will strengthen cooperative ties between potential project implementers from different sectors, increase knowledge of available public and private funding sources and improve strategic coordination between project ideas and funding structures.

South East Europe is usually side-lined in international support to key populations. We sincerely hope that vulnerable groups we serve deserve more attention and support.

The Conference will include plenary presentations from the region and donors, and work in two separate discussion rooms:

Group 1:        Sustainability of services for vulnerable populations

  • Quality assurance in service providing
  • Bridging funds for emergency situations (COVID and wider)
  • Children living in families with drug abuse history and young people who use drugs

Group 2:        Emerging needs of key populations

  • Respond to the economic consequences of coronavirus pandemic (empowering, rapid assessments and surveys, practical support on housing, food, clean water supply, etc.)
  • Involvement of key populations in designing and monitoring of the services for them

The Conference will be held on Thursday 6 August 2020 starting at 13:00 CET (14:00 EEST) via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89837901957. The conference would last for a maximum of 90 minutes.

Access to the Conference will be open. We would appreciate that you apply using following link https://forms.gle/bmDW7q25Ge15o2wW6 and indicate in which small group you would like to participate. If we don’t receive that information, we shall have to make the choice for you.

The Conference will be recorded in audio and visual format. The recording will be used for reporting only.

 

COVID-19 Law Lab

The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative is a joint project of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. It gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic.

The goal is to ensure that laws protect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards. Well-designed laws can help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and enforce actions to create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces.

The COVID-19 Law Lab is a database of laws that countries have implemented in response to the pandemic. It includes state of emergency declarations, quarantine measures, disease surveillance, legal measures relating to mask-wearing, social distancing, and access to medication and vaccines. It will also feature research on different legal frameworks for COVID-19. These analyses will focus on the human rights impacts of public health laws and help countries identify best practices to guide their immediate responses to COVID-19 and socioeconomic recovery efforts once the pandemic is under control

The COVID-19 Law Lab is accessible following this link>>>.

Guidance manual for therapeutic communities

Unfortunately, COVID-19 will last indefinitely among all of us, so the Therapeutic Communities (TCs) need to organize themselves to carry out the new reception procedures, especially considering that the public served by the TCs has great chances of being contaminated with COVID- 19 due to their social vulnerability. TCs that have structure, trained human resources, guarantee of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), notification flow with the municipality’s Health Department and contingency plan, will be able to carry out the quarantine process (14 days) within the organization itself.

For this reason, Federação Brasileira de Comunidades Terapêuticas (FEBRACT) published the Guidance manual for therapeutic communities “Basic care in relation to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)“. This guide for new entries, visits and outing is prepared in accordance with the guidelines of the PUBLIC TECHNICAL NOTE Nº 01/2020 of National Agency for Health Surveillance – ANVISA.

To download the Manual, follow this link>>>

 

A realistic insight into the consequences of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations

DPNSEE held the Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them?” with support of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions and Correlation – Harm Reduction Network.

39 representatives of civil society organisations, national drug agencies, international organisations and agencies and donor community participated.

Initial results of the EMCDDA study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans, as well as Correlation’s approach to collecting data from the point of view of civil society which can be of use in establishing our indicators and method of collecting them. Our colleagues gave us a very realistic view on the situation in their countries and efforts they made to provide services needed.

We hope to produce and distribute the report from the Conference in the next few days.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Kateřina Škařupová, PhD, Scientific analyst on health at the IPA project, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA): Initial results of the study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans following this link>>>
  • Roberto Perez Gayo, Project Officer at the Correlation – Harm Reduction Network: Results of the harm reduction response to the epidemic in Europe following this link>>>
  • Marija Radović, Coordinator of the department of direct assistance to people who use/inject drugs, sex workers and prisoners at Juventas, Montenegro: The influence of the COVID19 on the social and economic status of persons who use/inject drugs following this link>>>

 

Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE”

Following the success of the Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe, held on 23 April 2020, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe organises the Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them?

During the coronavirus outbreak, DPNSEE and its member organisations were primarily engaged on providing support to key populations we usually serve, which is mainly related to harm reduction and treatment services, fighting stigma and discrimination, providing legal and social advices, etc. Besides these, we learned that they have a variety of additional needs and that the consequences of the situation will be wider.

One of the conclusions of the Conference we held was that it is necessary to observe social and economic impacts of coronavirus epidemic to key populations in South East Europe. That would help to better define the emerging needs of the populations and provide them with better services.

The aim of the Conference is to discuss the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic on key populations in South East Europe.

The Conference should contribute to defining the indicators for collecting data and producing regional Assessments of social, mental and economic impact of coronavirus epidemic to key populations in South East Europe. The indicators will be observed by the DPNSEE member organisations and published quarterly and annually.

The external inputs will be provided by

  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) on the initial results of the study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans
  • Roberto Perez Gayo, Project Officer at the Correlation – Harm Reduction Network, who will present results of the harm reduction response to the epidemic in Europe.

In addition, we expect inputs from the experts, authorities and civil society organisations from the region.

The Conference will be held via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81356455423 on Thursday 16 July 2020 starting at 14:00 CET (15:00 EEST). The conference would last for a maximum of 90 minutes.

The Conference will be recorded in audio and visual format. The recording will be available at the DPNSEE website.

We sincerely hope that you shall join us, contribute to understand the situation in the region better and help define reliable indicators.

 

Regional Platform COVID Alert System

The Regional Platforms for Communication and Coordination are engaged in assisting the Global Fund to identify COVID-related risks, opportunities, disruptions, and innovations, specific to Global Fund-supported programs.

A systemized and regularized alert tool was developed for this purpose. Recognizing that in-country stakeholders already face many challenges and are overstretched at this time, the tool is designed to be as light as possible with the focus on critical-to-know information.

The key objectives of the monitoring approach are to:

  • Trigger certain actions by the Global Fund’s CRG Department, Global Fund Country Teams, other technical partners, etc. (depending on the issue);
  • Serve as an early warning system for the Global Fund to indicate things may be going off track so that stronger actions can be taken;
  • Identify innovative and successful community-led solutions in a timely manner, sharing these so that other countries may benefit from the ideas;
  • Allow the Global Fund to compare trends over time and across countries and regions;
  • Reduce the need for ad-hoc requests for information from the Global Fund; and
  • Provide communities with a formal communication channel to report the issues/innovations they are facing with HIV, TB and malaria programs amid the COVID pandemic

EECA Regional Platform has already received through this system an information from civil society representatives on a situation in a number of EECA countries and has provided the Global Fund with it.

If you are aware about any COVID-related issues which have impacted the work of the Global Fund supported HIV and TB programs in your country, please access the tool and report, following this link>>>.

 

COVID-19 Stories of Substance

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, being connected, joint strategising and sharing stories from the ground is as critical as ever as we collectively work to protect human rights, ensure the health and well-being of the communities most affected by the war on drugs, and end repression and punishment as instruments of drug control.

The IDPC Secretariat have been continuing to seek ways to better support information sharing and lessons learned from across the network as we face the challenges brought by COVID-19 and the responses governments are taking. In April, they launched a survey for their members (in English, Spanish, French and Thai) to capture this information. The survey remains open indefinitely for responses and previous entries can also be added to with new information. IDPC are now ready to begin sharing some of the rich information that has been provided by their members and others in the form of a new short fortnightly newsletter.

Each COVID-19 Stories of Substance newsletter will feature a couple of relevant stories and lessons shared by people who have responded to IDPC dedicated survey on COVID-19. It will also include a curated list of news and updates every two weeks, with a specific focus on the COVID19 pandemic and its various impacts on the drug market, drug policy and related advocacy, harm reduction services, community-led mobilisation/movement, funding opportunities, and many more. IDPC will also flag upcoming online events of interest, and provide links to access recordings of recent ones.

To receive this newsletter please sign up here>>>.

 

Protective material for vulnerable groups

The Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia obtained funds for protective material against coronavirus intended for vulnerable social groups.

Milan Pekić, the Director of the Office, handed out aid packages to representatives of civil society organizations that provide services for prevention, rehabilitation and resocialization of people with drug use disorder on 19 May. Taking into account the circumstances in which they find themselves, as well as the measures prescribed by the medical institutions, the representatives of these organizations received masks, gloves and disinfectants.

The Office for Combating Drugs, as a service of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, tried not to forget the members of endangered categories of citizens in this serious situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. They must not remain on the margins of the society in this situations. In accordance with the recommendations of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, we have tried to provide the necessary assistance to those who need it the most, and these are certainly vulnerable groups in the society, including people with drug use disorder. The material was provided to civil society organizations that are in direct contact with over 400 members of vulnerable categories” said the Director of the Office.

Global Fund support for fighting COVID-19

The Global Fund, the largest multilateral funder of health systems worldwide, is providing immediate funding of up to US$1 billion to help countries fight COVID-19, mitigate the impacts on lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs, and prevent fragile health systems from being overwhelmed, through grant flexibilities and the COVID-19 Response Mechanism.

 

Grant flexibilities, announced on 4 March 2020, allow countries with current grants to: 1) use up to 5% of their current grant value if there are savings, and/or 2) reprogram up to 5% of the value of a grant to meet immediate COVID-19 response requirements. Repurposing equipment already purchased through a Global Fund grant is also an option to respond to COVID-19.

Total available funding for flexibilities is up to US$500 million. As of 5 May 2020, funding has been approved for 73 countries and five regional grants for a total of US$109 million. Among them Albania got US$80,400 of support, Kosovo EUR 91,733 and Romania EUR 316,255. This information is updated regularly through the Situation Reports on the Global Fund website. Eligibility: Countries and multi-country grants with current grants from the 2017-2019 allocation period.

Application process: For the use of savings and reprogramming, the Principal Recipient issues a request to the Global Fund’s Fund Portfolio Manager. Preferably, it is endorsed by the CCM. The Global Fund responds within five working days.

The request should include a brief budget, describe the activities to be funded, how it will fit into the national response, and outline potential consequences to and mitigants for HIV, TB and malaria programming.

Implementation: Global Fund financed activities must be implemented by an existing Principal Recipient (and/or existing Sub-Recipients). The main investment categories are (a) protecting Global Fund disease program against negative impact of COVID, (b) direct responses against COVID, and (c) address immediate gaps in health and community support systems. Guidance on eligible activities is available on the Global Fund’s website.

Funding Source: Countries can use savings or reprogram current grants, up to 10% of the grant value.

More information is available here>>>.

 

The COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM), approved in April 2020, authorizes US$500 million in funding in addition to grant flexibilities. C19RM can be used across the three diseases and the health system, even if a country only has a single Global Fund grant for one component. The CCM will assess the most urgent needs and direct activities through one or more of the principal recipients.

Total available funding: USD$500 million, initially. Public and private donors are able to direct additional resources to the Global Fund through C19RM to scale up the COVID-19 response and support systems for health across the grant portfolio.

Eligibility: Countries with a Global Fund allocation for the 2020-2022 period can access an amount equivalent to up to 10% of their allocation. This ceiling includes the use of savings and reprogramming under existing grants.

The immediate additional amount of funds available for each country is 3.25% of the 2020-2022 allocation period, provided the country has not yet used savings and reprogramming exceeding 6.75% of this allocation.  Application Process: The application is submitted through the CCM or the regional coordinating mechanism preferably by 31 May and no later than September 2020 so that emergency funding can reach countries as soon as possible.

The funding request is divided into two parts:

  • Priority 1 for the most urgent activities. This is capped at 3.25% of the 2020-2022 country allocation. The Global Fund will respond within 10 days to this request.
  • Priority 2 for supplementary interventions. This is capped at 10% of the 2020-2022 country allocation minus the amounts already requested for C19RM Priority 1 and approved grant flexibilities/reprogramming. These supplementary requests could be awarded later if more funds are made available.
  • All applications should demonstrate that an inclusive engagement with civil society and key affected populations took place to formulate the demand. C19RM funds are additional and will not be deducted from the 2020-2022 allocation. Funding must be fully utilized by June 2021.

Instructions to apply can be found here>>>.

Implementation: C19RM funds must be implemented through an existing country grant and principal recipient, regional and multi-country grants. It can be used for three areas, to:

  1. Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on current HIV, TB and malaria programs.
  2. Reinforce the national COVID-19 response
  3. Invest in urgent improvements in health and community systems