Our initiative presented at the Global Fund Board meeting

The Developing Country NGO Delegation at the Global Fund published a statement with the 42nd Board Meeting highlights, including 8 important matters they pushed for at the meeting, with ways that civil society can move them forward. The statement is available following this link>>>

The initiative of the three regional networks: Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Eurasian Harm reduction Network and Drug Policy Network South East Europe to respond to the critical situation concerning the sustainability of harm reduction services in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania was among the issues that the Delegation raised at the Global Fund Board meeting. It is mentioned in the point 4 of the statement:

Addressing civil society concerns: The Developing Country NGO brought to the Board and bilateral meetings concerns raised by civil society organisations including those by nearly 100 NGOs about the ending of multi-country grants in West Africa; cases of the failed transitions and interruption of services for key populations, including the lack of funding for harm reduction programs in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina , Romania and Bulgaria; and exploring next steps to ensure access to health services, treatment and care in Venezuela.

We hope that the Global Fund will make some concrete steps in helping us find a quick response to the urgent needs and building a sustainable solution in these countries.

 

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>>>

 

Transition from Global Fund support to national funding: role, opportunities and priorities for civil society in Albania

Source:

The workshop “Transition from Global Fund support of HIV and TB programs to national funding: role, opportunities and priorities for civil society in Albania” took place in Tirana, the capital city of Albania, on 23 – 24 of October and gathered 29 participants including civil society representatives, CCM members, representatives of the Global Fund CRG Team and CCM Hub (online), experts from neighbouring countries and representatives of the governmental structures.

Albanian HIV and TB components became ineligible for regular funding after the 2014–2016 allocations were announced and therefore Albania became eligible to receive transition funding. It will receive a three-year transition grant within the 2017-2019 allocation period. This transition grant is expected to start in January 2020 and will be a significantly lower level of investment—about one third the value of current Global Fund grants. The implementation of the current Global Fund HIV and TB grant is ending in December 2019.

According to the estimated annual needs to sustain HIV and TB responses prior to submitting the transition grant request, Albania’s needs approximately US $3 million to address its two epidemics effectively. Hence US $9 million is required over 2020-2022, the three-year period of the transition grant. With an allocation of just under US $6 million within the current HIV and TB grants, roughly 60% of the funding need is currently being met. Without significant increases in domestic funding, the funding gap is expected to grow in the coming years. Moreover, the services for key affected populations (KAPs) are largely implemented by civil society. Their scale, quality and delivery models are to be improved under the new transition grant. So far, these services have not been funded from domestic resources, though there is an office for civil society and general funding for civil society groups in the country. The national strategies on HIV and TB are expiring in 2019. The Global Fund, under its pilot ‘CCM Evolution Project,’ supports Albania’s HIV and TB governance reforms although with no clear outcome so far.

Community and civil society advocacy is critical at this conjunction of processes to ensure sustainability of the response. But at the same time the transition Funding Request 2020- 2022 poses a direct challenge to the services provided by NGOs being sub-recipients of the Global Fund grant. It is expected that starting from 2020 the number of NGOs supported by Global Fund will become twice lower, decreasing from 12 to 5. It is not clear what happens with the activities implemented by those 7 NGOs left behind and which exactly NGOs this will be.

Taking this context into account, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) in coordination with the Global Fund Secretariat, decided to organize a workshop for civil society and community representatives in Albania. The workshop aimed to help improve the understanding of local civil society representatives involved in the country’s HIV and TB responses, of the Global Fund transition-related processes currently taking place in country and also to stimulate ideas, plans and opportunities for their meaningful engagement into such processes to ensure the sustainability of HIV and TB response among key affected populations in Albania.

The participants first heard the information about the steps being taken by the government to prepare for transition of HIV/TB prevention interventions from the Global Fund’s support and also about the transition-related risks for HIV response and civil society services. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health updated the participants on the work being done to secure funding and social contracting from national and local authorities including on the public budget cycles, possibilities to advocate and influence the budget at central and local level. Guest activists from North Macedonia and Montenegro shared their lessons learnt from the transition experiences of their countries with regard to budget advocacy efforts being taken by civil society in these countries to sustain HIV response among KAPs. The representative of the Agency for Support of Civil Society informed the participants about the opportunities of funding available for NGOs, including those related to public health. On the second day of the event the participants also had the opportunity to discuss and plan the advocacy steps need to be taken by civil society in nearest future to ensure the sustainability of services for KAPs as well as to discuss their Global Fund related TA needs and plan the possible content of the potential requests for the support within the Global Fund CRG TA Program.

DPNSEE President Vlatko Dekov presenting lessons learnt from North Macedonia

Genci Muçollari, Executive Director at DPNSEE member organisation Aksion Plus who participated in the workshop, thinks that “It was an interesting workshop though we were expecting high level presentation from the GF and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MHSP). World Health Organisation representatives were attending, other NGOs as well. Above all discussions among partners, the role of the MHSP and the Albanian government is very important to ensure a gradual transition from Global Fund to state funds through social contracting and other ways of contribution both in money and in kind to programs and activities covered before by GF. The workshop organizers presented some of the funding opportunities from other regional donors and call for proposals in order to support activities after the GF.

The event was organized by the Regional Platform for Communication and Coordination for the EECA Region, hosted by Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA).

A publication about our project

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.

Please find the document following this link>>>

Small grants for community-led monitoring of service quality and satisfaction

The Eurasian Regional Consortium invites you to fill in forms to take part in the call for proposals to receive small grants for community-led monitoring of service quality and satisfaction. The Eurasian Regional Consortium joins the efforts of the Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM), the Eurasian Women’s AIDS Network (EWNA) and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA).

The call for proposals and the workshop to develop the skills and knowledge in monitoring of service quality and satisfaction are organized with financial support of the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund (RCNF) within the project “Thinking outside the box: overcoming challenges in community advocacy for sustainable and high-quality HIV services”.

The total budget of the call for proposals is USD 35,000, with the maximum amount of one grant being USD 5,800. The following quotas are set forth for each of the communities:

  • 2 grants for the community of people who use drugs/OST participants;
  • 2 grants for the community of women living with HIV and vulnerable to HIV;
  • 2 grants for the community of gay/bisexual men/trans people.

Most SEE countries are eligible. Even if you are not a community organisation, maybe there are some leaders from the communities or OST clients who would be interested in looking into quality of OST. Only groups of people who use drugs can participate, but the grant could be managed by a harm reduction organization.

All other things being equal, preference will be given to the groups/organizations, which are active members of the Consortium: EHRA, ECOM and EWNA.

More information about the call are available following this link>>>

EHRA representatives visit

As the DPNSEE project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe funded by Open Society Foundations (OSF) through Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is about to come to an end in April this year, EHRA Financial Director Tatiana Fomicheva and Sustainability and Transition Adviser Ivan Varentsov visited DPNSEE on 17 and 18 April 2019. The purposes of the visit were to make an oversight of the project related documents and provide support with regard to the development of the final financial report.

EHRA representatives had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the national coordinator organisations MarginaJuventas and Prevent and get to know better their achievements and challenges while implementing the project. It was also interesting to discuss lessons learnt, possible next steps and follow up actions. All three indicated that the main issue they faced was lack of information or very slow response to provide them by the authorities. Understanding this obstacle, an agreement was made that DPNSEE and partner organisations will propose to extend the project by September 2019.

Our guests presented us the EHRA activities in the scope of the Global Fund HIV multi-country project, content of the workshop on human rights issues for the Balkan region planned for autumn this year and the Global Fund Community, Rights and Gender Technical Assistance Program. For this occasion, we also invited our colleagues from Serbian partner and member organisations DugaGAJPTimok Youth Centre and Čovekoljublje.

For our guests, we also arranged meetings with Dr Jasmina Tanasić, Head of the Department for Social Affairs at the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities and Primarius Dr Danijela Simić, Head of Department for HIV infection, STI, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis, Centre for Prevention and Control of Diseases, at the Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanović Batut”.

The visit will help to better document the approach, process and results of our project as well as the lessons learnt. Documenting this our joint experience as a regional best practice and example of small grants to NGOs in recently transitioned of transitioning countries to support their sustainability and transition related advocacy activities can be of benefit to the Sustainability Bridge Funding that is about to be created by a group of international donors led by the OSF.

CND – half way through

The 62nd CND is running full steam on the third day. Besides plenary work with national delegations discussing and voting on formal decision, a variety of side events present interesting experiences, projects, results and challenges from around the globe.

Decriminalizing drug use and possession: A cross-national perspective on lessons learned and best practices

Organized by the Czech Republic, the Drug Policy Alliance, Release and the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy. Niamh Eastwood from Release (UK) reminded that UN agencies estimate that 83% of all drug offenses globally are related to possession and use of drugs. Tough sanctions don’t deter people from using drugs. Decriminalisation is not a new option – some countries use it since seventies of the last century. No country that recently decriminalised experiences increase in drug use! It is time to start exploring new models of decriminalisation. An argument against is that “we need to protect kids”, but the majority of those who are under criminal justice systems are young people up to 24 years of age. For young people, we should work on preventing long-term problematic drug use. Caitlin Hughes from the National Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre (Australia) presented results of several studies on decriminalisation. Barbara Janikova and Viktor Mravčik from the Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions presented successes their country achieved adopting decriminalisation. After they criminalised drug use and possession in 1999, use of cannabis was growing; on contrary, when they decriminalised it in 2010, the cannabis use dropped significantly. There is a national consensus that there is benefit of decriminalisation for public health and general wellbeing. Same way, Dagflin Hessen Paust from the Norwegian Association for Safer Drug Policies (Norway) presented their change of approach, which included a large national debate. Finally, there is the proposal for decriminalisation in process now, evidence based and proposed by the ruling conservative party. Supply issue is the elephant in the room when discussing decriminalisation. Theshia Naidoo from the Drug Policy Alliance (USA) had a large discussion where the three main issues were: How to define the conduct that is decriminalised? Who are the optimal decision makers? Appropriate response to drug use and possession? Decriminalisation should be followed by large investment in social services to people who use drugs.  Blog notes from this side event are available following this link>>>.

Aligning data collection with UNGASS implementation and the Sustainable Development Goals: Recommendations for a review of the Annual Report Questionnaire

Organized by Canada, Mexico and Switzerland, IDPC, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation from Canada and the Global Drug Policy Observatory of Swansea University. Mexico prepared a matrix of 106 recommendations related to the UNGASS outcomes. EMCDDA representative claims that it is a very complex job to get data. On one side, they are specific and complex and on the other side there is a specific political aspect attached to them. Marie Nougier from IDPC presented the information on data collecting they included in the report “Taking stock: A decade of drug policy – A civil society shadow report” and expressed the willingness of IDPC and many civil society organisations to contribute to updating the Questionnaire.

Women, incarceration and drug policy: Special vulnerabilities that call for focused responses

This side event gathered various representatives that agreed that women that are drug users face various obstacles and are much more vulnerable in prison settings and their human rights. Ms Ivana Radačić from OHCHR pointed out the fact that in general more women than men are serving drug use related sentences and that there are significant obstacles for them to be provided with fair trial. Project officer in Eurasian Harm Reduction Association Ms Eliza Kurčević presented the results of the research conducted by EHRA and said that “33,6% out of total number of prisoners in Russia are women, while 19.628 of them are sentenced for drug related offences. They face many challenges relate to human rights violations, family rights and other justice related problems.” These challenges remain one of the key priorities that should be addressed through both drugs and justice policies.

Launch of UNODC-VNGOC civil society guide on UNGASS outcome document and SDGs

Organized by the Sweden, UNODC, Civil Society Team and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. Jamie Bridge, Chairman of VNGOC, emphasised that more than 85% of the civil society organisations replied that they contributed to at least one SGD, while a quarter of them said they contributed to all 17 SGDs. HE Mikaela Ruth, the Ambassador of Sweden, presented the key features of the guide for NGOsWorking together: Drugs and the Sustainable Development Goals“. The UNODC representative Billy Batware underlined how the UNGASS outcome document and SDGs are connected and presented the structure and content of the guide. Dayana Vincent from Fourth Wave Foundation working in India, Wangari Kimemia from Médecins du monde France in Kenya and Heloisa Broggiato Mater from International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care about their workshops on Availability and Access to Opioid Medications in Latin American Countries presented their experiences in working on programmes related to sustainability development goals.

Other events

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs held an Informal Dialogue with the UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. NGOs had an opportunity to propose questions and 11 of them were selected for Mr Fedotov to reply to. Participants of the dialogue touch upon topics like prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, alternative development, healthcare, opioid crisis, prevalence of drug use, Listen first and Strong families programmes and research and analysing new trends. One of the questions was asked by Janko Belin, about if UNODC have programmes related to drugs and migrants.

Another Informal Dialogue was held with with the INCB President Viroj Sumyai. Blog notes from this dialogue are available following this link>>>.

Project Planning Meeting

The Project Planning Meeting of the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe project, supported by the Open Society Foundations and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, was held on Friday 3 August 2018 in the DPNSEE Office in Belgrade. The aim of the meeting is to gain mutual understanding and full ownership of the project and operationalize the plan of actions.

Organisation of training, national in all three participating countries Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and regional was most discussed. Profile and recruitment of consultancy teams, preparing national programs of actions and management of the budget were at the table too.

Dates and venues for the trainings are as follows:

  • The regional training for all three national Consultancy teams will be held from 3 to 5 September in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina
  • The training in Bosnia Herzegovina will be held from 5 to 7 September in Sarajevo
  • The training in Serbia will be held from 24 to 28 September
  • The training in Montenegro will be held from 1 to 5 October in Podgorica

SEE civil society organisations consultations

Preparing for the regional dialogue with donors, civil society organisations from South East Europe met in Belgrade, Serbia on 17 January 2018. The aim of the meeting is to discuss current developments regarding the work of the South East Europe Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) and preparation process of the multi-country application, possible cooperation with EECA regional networks as well as opportunities for advocacy funding initiatives sustaining HIV prevention services in South East Europe. Around 30 representatives of the civil society organisations (CSOs) from all SEE countries participated.

Ana Filipovska, the RCM Coordinator and Milutin Milošević, DPNSEE Executive Director, presented recent work of the RCM and the call for multi-country application to the Global Fund to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The presentations and discussions following then helped to clarify some misunderstandings. Two regional initiatives for the project to the Global Fund were presented – Alliance and EHRA, ECOM, SWAN.

Milutin Milošević, DPNSEE Executive Director, delivering presentation

CSOs were invited to actively contribute to the work of Country Coordinating Mechanisms in expressing the country needs and designing a regional project.

The meeting was organised by HERA and Zaedno Posilni, supported by the Open Society Foundations.