In the last decade, an increasing number of donors are withdrawing their support for healthcare. This has been especially true for middle-income countries, where the growth of domestic resources was one of the triggers for donor funding reduction. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) has termed this process as “transition”.
In 2018 the Open Society Foundations, through the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), initiated the project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe. It provided funding to three transitioning countries in the Balkan region – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia – through the sub-regional network organization, Drug Policy Network South East Europe (DPNSEE), to support budget advocacy for harm reduction services. The local coordinating organisations are Margina, Juventas and Prevent.
The case study looks at the implementation of this project as one of the demonstrations of the SBF mechanism, with the objectives to:
Document the pilot in 3 Balkan countries and to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and to develop suggestions for improvement; and,
Document the results, successes, and challenges of the budget advocacy projects supported through this approach.
Our project serves as a pilot for the Sustainability Bridge Funding (SBF), an idea that has been discussed among donors and civil society organizations as a way of mitigating the negative effects of transition and in providing support for key essential services for communities and key populations. As a safety net mechanism, it should respond to gaps in funding and mitigate adverse effects of donor funding withdrawal.
The budget analysis in Serbia was completed and presented on an event organised jointly by Prevent and DPNSEE in the EU Info Centre in Belgrade on 1 October 2019. The analysis was prepared in scope of the project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe by the team of consultants engaged by Prevent.
The surveys were of a meta-analytic nature, conducted on data and information obtained on the basis of publicly available documents published by state bodies: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia, the Customs Administration and the Agency for Business Registers.
The aim of the research was to explore the status and trends of program financing in order to find opportunities and solutions for securing funds for their sustainability.
The analysis clearly shows a continuous decrease in the allocation of funds for preventive health care, regardless of whether the total budget of the Ministry is increased or decreased and whether the budget of the Ministry of Health occupies a higher or lower percentage in the national budget for a given year. The most significant finding is the constantly present difference in the planned and executed budget – the allocated/spent funds are continuously reduced compared to those planned.
Besides the analysis of the budget of the Ministry of Health which was produced, DPNSEE has prepared and presented an analysis of the public calls for prevention of the Ministry of Health. This analysis is available following this link>>>.
On the occasion of the International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), DPNSEE issued a press release underlining the importance of awareness and fighting stigma on overdose and presenting data about the issue worldwide and especially in Serbia. The release was published by the national Press agency Tanjug and several other media and portals.
In Montenegro, NGO Juventas also issued a press release (supported by the NGO 4 Life) and held a press conference where Marija Mijović, coordinator of Programme of direct assistance to the people in risk of social exclusion presented situation in the country. A movie “Overdose”, directed by Mladen Vujović, outreach worker at the Drop-in Centre of NGO Juventas, Montenegro in cooperation with the Hungarian Drug reporters, was screened at the Green Montenegro International Film Festval.
Our colleagues from the Romanian Harm Reduction Network created a special video for this year’s IOAD campaign. Have a look at “Voices of the drug users. Episode 1”
Association AREAL and AREALTRIBE group from Slovenia organized a workshop dedicated to the International overdose awareness day on 1 September 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Participants were educated how to respond if an individual finds himself or herself in that position.
Thousands of people die each year from drug overdose and the fact is, overdose is an increasing global problem. Spreading the message that the tragedy of overdose and injury is preventable, International Overdose Awareness Day raise awareness of overdose and reduces the stigma associated with the drug-related death. Also, the day of awareness is providing support to families and loved ones of overdose victims, so that no one is forgotten.
DPNSEE Office team is proud to present our new website. This is a result of a great work of our colleagues Snežana and Nenad and expert work from Vuk Ninić from STANDARD-E.
Besides visual and improvements in organisation of the site, we updated two important services and made them easily available.
At the Resource Centre, you can currently search through more than 360 documents classified in 7 categories, from 12 countries of the region (including even Turkey) and international, on 11 languages. Thank you once again to our recent volunteer Marija Spasić and Staff members Irena Molnar and Nenad Maletin for compiling such a comprehensive collection of documents and Nenad again for making it available for web search and download.
The pages for the Glossary of terms used in drug policy currently provide you with the on-line versions of the Glossary in English and Serbian. We are in process of uploading the versions in Spanish, Bosnian and Montenegrin and connecting them to establish relations between terms in different languages. PDF versions are already available from the website. Thank you to our recent volunteer Vladana Stepanović for collecting most of the terms and many other colleagues who helped with additions and translations.
We hope that you shall like, use, link and promote our website. Also, we welcome all your comments which can be of help to making this website useful.
We would very much appreciate your suggestions for new terms for the Glossary (or improved texts for existing terms) and documents for the Resource Centre (or information about new versions of the existing documents).
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.
For the launch of the Global Day of Action, DPNSEE organised a “Kick-off event” to start the campaign in South East Europe. The event was held in the EU Info Centre in Belgrade, Kralja Milana 7, on 19 June 2019.
Besides journalists, representatives of colleague civil society organisations, UN agencies, Office for combating drugs and political parties were present.
Representatives of the Network presented the key findings from baseline research on “Documenting Drug Related Cases of Discrimination”. This small scale research aims on raising awareness on existing discrimination in different areas of everyday life, map the situation and make a base for the further advocacy actions in decreasing stigma and discrimination towards people who use drugs.
DPNSEE also presented the proposal for decriminalisation of drug use and possession made to the Working group on changes to the Criminal Law in Serbia. The proposal was submitted to the Working Group for amendments to the Criminal Law but unfortunately was not supported.
DPNSEE member organisation Prevent presented results of the regional project “Budget Advocacy Monitoring in South East Europe” in Serbia. That included analysis of the national budgets for 4 last years with a specific focus on health and harm reduction, execution of the budget and excises, and the Declaration for sustainable national response to HIV.
Re Generation presented the results of their research “How the closing of the needle exchange programs affected the access to harm reduction services in two cities – Belgrade and Budapest“.
Finally, DPNSEE representatives presented the activities in the region in scope of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign.
Nova stranka is the first political party in Serbia which signed the Declaration for sustainable national response to HIV, proposed by the Group for Analysis of Public Policies (GAJP) as part of their project Political support to the harm reduction programmes. Aim of this project is to invite all political parties in Serbia to sign the Declaration that will oblige them to support harm reduction programmes and their financing from budgetary sources in their future work and participation in legislative and executive bodies.
The President of the Council of the Nova stranka, Aris Movsesian said that it is normal for the Nova stranka, as well as all other political parties, to sign this declaration. Nova stranka is committed to joining the European Union, and the last year’s European Commission report calls for regulating the treatment of HIV patients, specifically in Chapter 28 where such measures are proposed. Nova stranka also emphasises in point 8 of their Action Plan the problem of relations with vulnerable groups of citizens.
Movsesian invited other political parties to follow our example and make such a civilization step.”
The National Committee for fighting HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, which performs the role of the Country Coordinating Mechanism in Serbia, adopted today the documents which will be submitted to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The project is expected to run from July 2019 to June 2022.
Back in 2016, the Global Fund allocated €1,098,351 for HIV and building resilient and sustainable systems for health. The allocation have been determined primarily based on disease burden and income level. Serbia is classified as an upper-middle-income country. Serbia committed to encourage additional domestic investment of 25%. The first amount agreed during the application in already included in the national budget for 2019.
The project seeks to scale-up HIV testing services for all key affected populations (KPs), preventive programs for men who have sex with men and sex workers and needles and syringes program (NSP) and other preventive programs for people who inject drugs. In addition, the project seeks to maintain and extend support provided by organizations of people living with HIV to people on antiretroviral treatment. The project will fund services provided by civil society organisations and will contribute to community system strengthening. In order to reach the maximum impact the majority of prevention and support interventions will be implemented at least in the two regions (Belgrade and Vojvodina) in which majority of KPs are concentrated based on surveillance data..
The civil society organisations, including DPNSEE and our three member organisations from Serbia Prevent, Duga and Timok Youth Centre, actively participated in creating the new national HIV strategy, in the work of the National Committee and the Working group for negotiations with the Global Fund.