We are growing – three new DPNSEE member organisations!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strong “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign in Macedonia

In the period from June 22 to July 07, as part of the “Support Don’t Punish” campaign, Healthy Options Project Skopje – HOPS has implemented activities in Macedonia.

Along with the Sustainability Platform for HIV Awareness Programs, on 22 June 2017, HOPS held a press conference for the need of providing financial resources and continuation of HIV prevention and harm reduction programs in the Republic of Macedonia. Dr. Arben Tarawari, new Minister of Health, also attended to the press conference and stated that the Ministry will support the programs.

The press conference with Dr. Arben Tarawari, Minister of Health

On June 16th 2017, a public call for the best journalistic article was published on the topic: „Sustainability and the need of harm reduction programs in the Republic of Macedonia”. Up to the deadline, 6 articles of journalism (5 texts and 1 video) were reported to the call. The articles evaluation committee has selected the two best articles, followed by a 300$ prize for the first place, and 200$ for second place. The winners are publicly announced on the HOPS website.

Logo of the campaign

With „Save Lives“ logo, an online petition was published to support harm reduction and HIV prevention programs in Republic of Macedonia. So far, 659 persons have signed the on-line petition. Additionally, on June 27th 2017, a stand for collecting signatures for support a petition was set on the city square in Skopje. In total, 980 signatures are collected. The petition will be submitted to the Ministry of Health and the Government of the Republic of Macedonia.

A petition for supporting Harm Reduction Programs and HIV prevention in Republic of Macedonia

Further survival of harm reduction programs and HIV prevention in the Republic of Macedonia is uncertain. The current financial support from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ends in June 2017. This will result with leaving over 10,000 people who use drugs as well as their family members without proper social and health care.

Thanks to harm reduction programs, only two new HIV cases have been recorded in Macedonia in the last ten years as a result of drugs injecting and less than 5% of 315 registered cases of HIV were people who inject drugs. These figures are far smaller than in the neighbouring countries. Macedonia can boast with the lowest HIV rate in Southeast Europe, but if these programs are not implemented, there is a risk of HIV epidemics as a result of interaction with the epidemics in neighbouring countries and the possibility of increasing risk behaviours.

There are 17 harm reduction programs in Macedonia (4 in Skopje and 13 in different other cities). These programs are efficient and financially worthwhile. According to the research analyses, the cost for one client in harm reduction programs is approximately 155 € per year. In contrast, the cost only for medicines for a patient with hepatitis C is up to 13.194 €, and the untimely and inappropriate treatment of hepatitis C causes cirrhosis and liver cancer, whose treatment costs more than 30.000 € per patient. Additionally, the costs of treating HIV and hepatitis C financially exhaust the families of people in need of treatment, thereby further multiplying undesirable costs and disrupting overall social well-being.

Therefore, a petition was initiated to request the Ministry of Health and the Government of the Republic of Macedonia to:

  • Adopt an urgent solution for using funds from the HIV program and the remaining funds from the Global Fund for key programs across the country, which will ensure continued assistance to citizens and the prevention of HIV.
  • Establish cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the civil society and other stakeholders for adoption of appropriate laws or by-laws and measures that will guarantee transparency, adequate expertise and long-term sustainability and development of HIV prevention programs.

Sign up the petition here!

Healthy Options Project Skopje produced advocacy movie in cooperation with Drugreporter to support the campaign and save underfunded harm reduction programmes which are a huge success in the region. Watch the video produced and learn more!

Support. Don’t Punish – SEE Country activities


In the frame of the 26th of June and the world campaign Support. Don’t Punish, Aksion Plus will organize awareness activities in two cities, Tirana and Durrës, distributing leaflets and sharing information especially to young people. In parallel, they launched an online blog inviting young people, their beneficiaries and partners such as Y-peer, YMCA, Youth Voice network to write “What would you do about drug user’s rights, if you were a Prime minister” related to the drug policy reforms, treatment, and other related actions.

Other activities also involve their clients at opioid substitution therapy centres (OST) where they organise small group discussions, outreach information, leaflets distribution, one to one conversations and counselling to raise their awareness on how to better protect their rights, as well as to provide referrals to other institutions in case they face violations from police, courts and law enforcement agencies. The most vulnerable groups among their clients (i.e. street users, sex workers who use drugs, LGBT members) are strongly encouraged and supported to fight for their rights and report to Aksion Plus or to People’s Advocate when they face violence or marked stigma. Their six OST centres will be very active to convey the message of this campaign. Aksion Plus will also try to extend the activities with decision makers and politicians though it will be difficult as the general elections will take place on 25 of June. They have presented their ideas on drug policy and interventions during the Democratic Party election campaign.

Contact: gencaxionp@albmail.com

Bosnia and Herzegovina

To mark the day of 26th of June Association Margina planned a series of activities:
1. Public debate “Addiction and drug addicts in the legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina”
The public debate on this subject will be held on 26 June, in cooperation and partnership with the University of Tuzla. Professors and students of several universities (Law, Medicine, Education and Rehabilitation, Philosophy and Pharmaceutical) will participate. The goal is that academia provides guidelines on the suggestions of experts and NGOs that Bosnia and Herzegovina need Lex specialis “Law on Drugs” that would encompass all aspects of this phenomenon and its application in the society like the one in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2. Marking the global campaign “Support. Don’t Punish”
The evening of 26 of June will be dedicated to outdoor activities and promotion campaign supported by local DJs and socially engaged bands. During activities, a documentary film “I want to wake up,” will be shown, which gives a complete picture of the life of five drug users in different stages of their life.

3. Press conference and promotion of strategic documents
This event will be the introductory full-day program aimed to the media and partners that want information about these important documents and the developments regarding the Global Campaign to reach to the largest possible number of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At this event Margina will promote the following documents:
• National Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Drugs 2017-2022
• The policy for reducing harm from drug use in the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina
• EU Action Plan 2017-2020

Contact: berinabahic@gmail.com


A group of civil society organisations from Greece will participate in the campaign:
• “CENTRE FOR LIFE” – for the support of people living with HIV/AIDS
• “DIOGENIS”- Drug Policy Dialogue
• “PeNUPS”- Peers’ Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances
• “POSITIVE VOICE”- Association of People living with HIV/AIDS
• “PROMETHEUS” -Hellenic Liver Patient Association

These organizations constitute the “Greek Platform for Psychoactive Substances”, an unofficial initiative for joint action among organizations working in the area of drug policy and psychoactive substances. This year all these organizations are supporting the campaign and are responsible for its implementation in Athens, Greece. You can find more at https://www.facebook.com/supportdontpunishGreece/

Activities in Greece will include:
1. Press conference by “PeNUPS” supported by all the aforementioned organizations on 27 June from 12:00 to 14:00 at  Romantso, 3-5 Anaksagora Street, Omonia, Athens with aim to promote the campaign, highlight the actual needs of people who use drugs by giving floor directly to people who are the most affected by problematic drug policies. The challenges in the national drug policy will also be presented and the need for drug law reform and peer involvement will be promoted as one of the basic principles of harm reduction. The discussion will be coordinated by the journalist Mrs. Sotirchou Ioanna.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/203865003471040/

2. Street event (all the aforementioned organizations) with aim to make the campaign more visible to the general population and to offer some services to people who use drugs (e.g. food, mobile washing machine service, shower bus, rapid tests for HIV/HBV, HCV) Date: to be announced Location: SIN Athina, Athens at 19.00 pm, at Varvakeios square
Facebook event:https://www.facebook.com/events/321069778316468 

Contact: sofia.galinaki@diogenis.info


HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje opened the newspaper articles contest on the topic: „Why harm reduction programs are needed in the Republic of Macedonia“. You can find the call for articles here http://hops.org.mk/mk/content/povik-za-izbor-na-najdobra-novinarska-statija-na-tema-odrzhlivosta-i-potrebata-na-programite.

Subsequently, organization announced on-line petition for support on harm reduction programs in the Republic of Macedonia. You can find it at following link: https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-health-and-the-government-of-the-republic-of-macedonia-a-petition-for-supporting-harm-reduction-programs-and-hiv-prevention-in-of-macedonia

On 25 and 26 June, HOPS will collect signatures for the petition in the main square in the city of Skopje while on 30 June they plan to submit the petition to the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and announce the winner article.

Contact: vlatkod@hops.org.mk


Our Member organization Juventas with other civil society organisations and community-based organisations, including youth organisations organises campaign in capitol Podgorica, but with national coverage on several activities. One of them is media launch of the questionnaire for young people living in Montenegro. NGO Juventas and the Montenegrin Union of high school students as a main aim of the survey will try to obtain information from young people about young people. They will be used to continue creating activities aimed at young people in Montenegro, in the area of drug use. The questionnaire is completely anonymous. Survey among Youth on drug use you is available here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Juventas

In 2017, the campaign is planned to cover 3 topics: 1) Harm Reduction, 2) Non-existing treatment for underage people who use drugs, 3) Young people and drug use.  Special attention will be given to topic of young people and drug use, which will be a part of youth debate that we will organize around Action Day.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/799566700220674/ 

Contact: tijanap@gmail.com



Within the “Support. Don’t Punish” Global Day of Action NGO Re Generation is planning to organize a movie screening night that will aim to address the main obstacles and main problems regarding current drug policies in Serbia and wider. The event will be organised in Kvaka 22, on the 26 June, and the details of the event you can find on the Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/312618992520893

The three movies that will be screened will represent different sides of public health and human right issues related to drug use, including three different aspects of use such as recreational, problematic and medical and obstacles that exist when accessing information, services and other relevant programs.
Movies to be screened are:

  1. “Clubbing and youth health” – Harm reduction programs in recreational setting
  2. “Medical cannabis legalisation in Serbia” – Medical cannabis is legal in places as diverse as Canada, Uruguay, Israel and Jamaica. How would legalisation of medical cannabis look in Serbia?
  3. “Without shift” – What happened to NSP programs in Serbia after the Global Fund discontinued funding in Serbia.

Participant of the debate are:
Galeb Nikačević – VICE Srbija
Bojan Arsenijević – Re Generation
Teodora Jovanović – KSEA,
Ognjen Martinović – Re Generation

Contact: ngo.re.generation@gmail.com

Novi Sad

The Association Prevent will organise street action on 26 June from 10AM to 13AM in front of „Slobodan Bajić“ student home. The public event will include wearing t-shirts with „Support. Don`t Punish“ message and photograšhing people in the street who will be holding boards with the same slogan. Free t-shirts will be given away to people who want to support the campaign.

Contact: djnebojsa84@yahoo.com


RHRN with their partners will have the street activity around 2-3 open-air tents that will be installed in the centre of Bucharest, close to the University, to distribute information, the comic book on drugs, some banners on legalization and the campaign, presentations of the NGOs activities and distribution of some drug testing kits (LSD, ecstasy).

Contact: drosca@rhrn.ro

Successful charity auction for the kids of HOPS

HOPS and “Move with your finger “  (Mrdni so prst), together with Macedonian well-known actor Sasko Kocev and a huge number of Macedonian artists have organised a successful charity auction for the kids that are visiting HOPS.

The charity auction was held on 11th April at 19 o’clock in “Public Room” for the kids whose parents are\were drug users and sex workers.

“As a lack of finances we had a great need to make a move with our fingers and to organize a charity auction in order, for the children whose parent are using our services, to continue visiting our daily center for rehabilitation and re-socialization, where they can visit their psychologist, pedagogue, social workers, where they can be creative and their creative mind will be developed, and at the same time we will give them the opportunity to participate in more social activities and visit more cultural events – said Irena Mila from HOPS, now we can organize many birthdays, workshops and events together.

Smiling faces, beautiful atmosphere, “Public Room” was full with beautiful people, Sasko Kocev in element and generous known and famous Macedonian artists, designers and writers were part of this auction. This was the picture on Tuesday evening when we all were moving with our fingers for kids that are visiting our daily center for rehabilitation and re-socialization. The goal is achieved!

We sold all the artworks and we gathered 295.692 Macedonian denars. – Irena Mila from HOPS.


“If we want to do something to the society and raise awareness about many things, we need to move just with one finger! Just imagine if we give so much effort for something and moving with our finger is just the beginning and I truly hope that we will “open” everyone eyes about a lot of marginalised groups! We have a lot of artworks that have been donated from our artists, designers, writers, also we have a jersey from our famous footballer Goran Pandev, get prepared to bid because kids from HOPS need our help!” – said Sasko Kovec in the crowded “ Public Room “ at the beginning of the auction.


The event was opened by DJ Cako, who is a proud Macedonian ambassador to the United Nation, representing people with Down syndrome, he heated up the atmosphere and made everyone to dance from the very beginning. After a short speech by Hristijan Jankulovski, CEO of HOPS, who thanked all present guests because they moved their finger and decided to help to solve the problem, which on the other hand would leave these kids without the necessary care. Besides the loud auction, there was a silent auction, where people bided on the sheet of paper for all the artworks that were donated.

After a successful auction, the evening continued with DJ Goce Saf, when literally everyone in “Public Room” was dancing. This charity auction, supported by famous Macedonian artists was meant for the children whose parents are drug users or sex workers.

Lively and active CSO scene in Macedonia

Delegation of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe visited Macedonia on 21 to 22 December 2016. It was one of the final visits in the region in this year in an attempt to understand the situation and meet with a variety of stakeholders in drug policy in the country.

The delegation of the Network included Chairperson Tijana Žegura and Executive Director Milutin Milošević. We were accompanied by Thanasis Apostolou, DPNSEE founding Chairman and Director of Diogenis who presented the drug law reform initiatives.

Creative workshop in the HOPS drop-in centre
Creative workshop in the HOPS drop-in centre

DPNSEE member organisation HOPS was host for the visit. This very active and widely involved in social issues organisation presented their work, including the drop-in centre. The staff, both in the office and the drop-in, showed the variety of projects and support services.

The Methadone centre in the Karpoš municipality serves users in modern and fully equipped new premises. We had an informative and very open exchange with Dr Darko Kostovski.

Exchange in the NGO Coalition for health and sexual rights of marginalized community
Exchange in the NGO Coalition for health and sexual rights of marginalized community

Irena Cvetkovik of the NGO Coalition for health and sexual rights of marginalised community informed us about their activities, including their struggle to ensure fair and human treatment of police, especially the special Skopje brigade. The Coalition expressed their will to become DPNSEE member organisation!

Meeting with Dragi Celevski from the Office of the Ombudsman gave a quality insight into the work of this institution which for almost 20 years cares about respecting human rights in the country.

City of Skopje has an array of activities in supporting people affected by drugs which were presented during the meeting with Eleonora Nikolovska, the Coordinator of Office for Health, Social and Child protection.

An exchange with our good and lasting partner Dr Liljana Ignjatova, the National drug coordinator, completed the picture of the efforts taken in the country.

Finally, the delegation had an informative exchange with Hristijan Jankuloski, Chairman and Ana Filipovska, secretary of the Country Coordination Mechanism for Global Fund projects.

Even thought shortages in the proposed budget for 2017 and expected closing of the Global Fund projects are threatening future, we hope that lively and active CSO scene will fin their way in providing support to affected.

A challenge to connect and coordinate efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS


The FYRO Macedonia Country Coordinating Mechanism hosted the South East Europe High Level HIV
Regional Meeting on 1 and 2 December 2016 in Skopje in partnership with local NGOs H.E.R.A. and
Stronger Together and supported by AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The objective of the meeting was to establish a regional platform in South East Europe from countries that
are receiving and transiting from Global Fund to advocate for HIV sustainability beyond Global Fund
projects both at national and regional level. Countries in the South East Europe expected to be part of the
regional platform are: Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria
and Romania. Representatives of all these countries participated except Albania.

Besides country representatives, participants at the meeting included Vice-Chair and two Board members
and Focal Points of the Global Fund, representatives of the Open Society Foundations from New York and
local, several international organisations operating in the country (UNFPS, USAID, WHO, UNICEF), HIV and tuberculosis unit in the national Ministry of Health and local NGOs.

This was the first regional meeting of the CCM representatives. It was initiated to coordinate actions in a
very difficult situation when South East Europe is the only region which haven’t EECA region didn’t meet the Millennium Development Goal 6 related to HIV/AIDS. Question hard to answer is: Is it possible to end the HIV epidemic in SEE countries with current domestic and international investments? That is why the
Government investments of in HIV response and funding CSOs programs for key populations are important but not enough.

The Global Fund has 272 million USD for multi-country actions and 50 million USD for fighting HIV in
countries in transition. The decision on funding the projects in the next three years will be announced on 15 December!

The Open Society Foundations created their Safety Net mechanism for safeguarding services for key
population in countries where Global Fund is not providing funds any more. From actions eligible for these
funds, advocacy and accreditation are especially interesting for DPNSEE.

The meeting once again emphasized involvement of community and civil society organization in the HIV
regional dialogue. Unfortunately, there were no high level governmental representatives although it was
the idea of the organisers.

Working part of the meeting was dedicated to formulating the SEE Regional Coordinating Mechanism
Governance Manuel: Mission, common goals, objectives and outcomes, members, regional meetings,
activities as part of the 2017 working plan. It is important to underline that the RCM does not seek to
duplicate or over-ride the national authority of any CCMs or similar national bodies. Rather, through good
coordination among different regional stakeholders, it can and will amplify the work of national CCMs.

The participants agreed to delegate to Macedonian CCM responsibility to confirm all the members of RCM,
and complete the full draft of the Governance Manual by 31 January 2017. Permanent RCM Secretariat
office will be established by the RCM on the basis of an open, transparent and competitive process.

Besides the Executive Director, DPNSEE had several member organisations in the national delegations:
Viktorija from Bosnia Herzegovina, HOPS from FYRO Macedonia, Cazas and Juventas from Montenegro and ARAS from Romania. We had a good exchange and cooperated well when discussing the proposals.