Workshop on preparation of a new National Drug Strategy 2021 – 2025

HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje, within the regional project Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (#SoS_project) supported by the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, facilitates the workshop of the multi-sectorial working group on preparations of the National Drug Strategy 2021 – 2025 and the Action Plan 2021 – 2023.

The multi-sectorial working group was established by the Minister of Health. It consists of representatives from all relevant ministries, state institutions and civil society organizations. The workshop is being held in Ohrid from 14 to 18 September 2020.

The purpose of this workshop is to prepare the new National Drug Strategy 2021 – 2025, which by the end of the year should be adopted by the Government of the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

HOPS – Options for healthy living Skopje and services during COVID-19

Taken from the HOPS website

After the announcement of the corona virus pandemic, harm reduction services were modified but all clients were covered.

Drop-in centres for harm reduction of HOPS are closed, but each service has a special phone number and contact person that meets the needs of users. They can also contact the services through all social media (Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , Website) where all the news related to harm reduction from the coronavirus and all the new recommendations for protection of the population from and the World Health Organisation the Government are continuously published.

Mobile field teams operate every day, where users with pre-made contact are visited in front of their homes. The team is formed in dependence on the need of the clients (therapeutic and social worker, therapeutic and medical worker, therapeutic and lawyer). In accordance with the recommendation of the Government, there may be a maximum of two people in one vehicle. Field teams distribute sterile utensils (needles, syringes, distilled water, condoms and lubricants) daily and inform customers about all news related to the coronavirus and instructions and advice on protecting public health (such as the recommendations from INPUD).

HOPS team at work even in surprisingly bad weather conditions

HOPS, in cooperation with other humanitarian organizations, is also planning humanitarian actions in order to provide food and hygiene packages for the most vulnerable populations. Once a week, the medical person (doctor) must be part of the field team in order to assess the general health of the population and to react in a timely manner if necessary.

Substitution therapy centres carry out their activities smoothly and clients regularly receive their therapy. The staff employed at the methadone centres has increased the level of protective measures. They don’t allow more patients to be gathered (therapy is raised one by one) and fully follow the recommendations for protective equipment from the government of Northern Macedonia and the WHO.

For now, our team is working bravely, without obstacles and is dedicated to support all those in need. We thank them for their empathy and sacrifice during these strange times.

 

Edit (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>>>.

 

HOPS appointed the Acting Executive Director

Announcement for appointment of Acting Executive Director of HOPS

In times of extraordinary circumstances the Association HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje is experiencing, due to the sudden death of our dear colleague and Executive Director Mr. Ivica Cekovski, the Steering Committee has reached a decision to appoint Ms Hadji Sterjova Simnovic as an Acting Executive Director of the organization. This decision is a temporary one, with a duration of three months, i.e. until the state-of-emergency ends in our country and proper conditions for electing and appointing new Executive Director will be created. The position of Acting Executive Director entails the same responsibilities and obligations as an Executive Director.

Ms Sterjova Simonovic ќ is an attorney, with a long-standing experience working for HOPS and has an indispensable experience and knowledge in its activities, as well as the communities it represents.

We lost Ivica

It is with our deepest sorrow that we learned of passing of Ivica Cekovski, the Executive Director of HOPS, North Macedonia.

It was a joy to work with Ivica. He was calm, nice, organised and eager to give a helping hand. He was a wonderful person who will be so sorely missed.

We join our friends from HOPS with thoughts of comfort in helping them get over the immense void left behind by the loss of our beloved colleague Ivica. Words cannot express our sorrow. Ivica will be missed.

Regional conference on youth at risk

The regional conference on youth at risk, the closing event of the project “At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment“, was held in Podgorica, Montenegro on 10 – 11 December 2019. The project was supported by the European Union and implemented by consortium of six organizations from six Western Balkan countries: Juventas (project coordinator, Montenegro), ARSIS (Albania), Association Margina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), HOPS (Macedonia), NGO Labyrinth (Kosovo), Prevent (Serbia).

The conference aimed to examine results of the implementing reforms as well as remaining challenges in the field of social policies focusing on youth at risk. Within the scope of this project, youth at risk category includes young people using drugs, young people in conflict with the law, youth without parental care, young Roma, youth with street experience, youth living in families with history of using drugs or/and conflict with the law.

The conference gathered policy officials, researchers, service providers, civil society activists and members of the academia from the region of Western Balkan and Europe to discuss current social position of different youth at risk categories and main obstacles for better social integration. Guests and speakers included Nikola Janović, Minister of Sports and Youth, Government of Montenegro and representatives of the ministries of Health, Education, Justice and Labour and Social Welfare, Fiona McCluney, resident coordinator, UN system Montenegro, Michaela Bauer, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative for Montenegro and Ana Margarida Tome De Freitas Mariguesa, European Delegation to Montenegro, among others.

One of the main topics was related to the social services in terms of their quality, regional availability, process of monitoring and evaluation. Also, the conference was the opportunity to explore current state of the cooperation between public administration and civil society in the process of service provision. Different modes of cooperation were discussed including examples of good practice with the aim to identifying cooperation models that can have best possible results. The sustainability of the social services was one of the topics.

A very emotional moment of the conference was screening of the movie “Where is the home?” which was produced with the support from the project. The movie presents personal stories of two young man who grew up in a home for children and youth without parental care.

Representatives of the DPNSEE member organisations were active throughout the conference. Board members Nebojša Đurasović and Denis Dedajić were panellists, while Executive Director Milutin Milošević moderated one of the panels.

Training for the State commission for combating drugs

HOPS – Healthy Options Skopje, on 7 and 8 October 2019 organized an educational workshop on capacity building for the members of the Inter-ministerial state committee for combating illicit production, trade and drug abuse in the Republic of North Macedonia.

This educational workshop was organized as part of the regional project “Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” supported by the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The activities in the country are implemented by three partner organizations: Stronger together, HERA and HOPS.

The purpose of this workshop was to update the members of the Committee on harm reduction programs, as well as to initiate a coordination process for the preparation of the new national drug strategy which should be developed by end of 2020.

The lecturers of the workshop were: Vlatko Dekov, Advocacy manager and harm reduction expert at HOPS, Lidija Savić, Pharmacist and Chair of the Inter-ministerial committee on drugs, Heidi Sterjova Simonović, project coordinator and Dr Darko Kostovski, Psychiatrist specializing in the field of drug addiction treatment.

6-0 Tournament for People Against Addictions

The featured image of this news presents teams of Kethea (Greece) and HOPS (North Macedonia) which, besides sport competition and cooperation in the area of addiction, promote friendship and multi-cultural understanding.

The sixth edition of the 6:0 International People’s Tournament for People Against Addictions was held during the weekend at the Boyana National Football Base of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), with participating teams Heart Team, School of Life, Live, HOPS, SVOI, Bilani, Kethea ithaki, Open Eyes, New Beginnings, Remar, Renaissance, Freedom, Solidarity, ON LIFE and KA Sport Jump coming from Bulgaria, Greece, Northern Macedonia, Slovakia, Russia and Ukraine.

The official opening ceremony, held on 13 September, was preceded by a round table with the participation of the Minister of Youth and Sports Krasen Kralev, Deputy Minister of Health Svetlana Yordanova, Deputy BFU Executive Director Anton Popov and representatives of the Sofia Municipality. The round table discussed the problems with dependent behaviour in Bulgaria.

“The fight against youth addiction is a priority topic in the activities of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. One of the main programs of the Ministry with a budget of BGN 2 million a year is the National Program for the implementation of youth activities. In its essence it represents a real counteraction to aggression and all kinds of addictions through the implementation of various preventive activities and the inclusion of sport as a main tool for prevention”, Minister Kralev told the roundtable participants.

Special guests of the tournament are the popular TV presenter, singer and cook Leo Bianchi and former Bulgarian football national Stanislav Angelov. The two will also participate in the event as part of Team Heart.

The project is organized by the Revenche Association and the School for Life Foundation, co-financed by the Municipal Strategy for the Development of Physical Education and Sport of Sofia Municipality and supported by the Sofia – European Capital of Sport initiative.

This event is a citizens’ initiative. The project is organized by specialists with experience in the treatment of addiction who know the problem internally. Since 2015, with the assistance of the Bulgarian Football Union, five tournaments have been held under the common slogan “Not all people are addicts, but all addicts are people!

 

The International Overdose Day marked around SEE

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.

The press release is downloadable following this link>>>

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.

Our colleagues from the Healthy Options Skopje (HOPS) promoted widely their webpages related to overdose and drugs

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.

Time to remember – time to act.

Regional training for the ARYSE Advocacy Network

Within the project “Strengthening young people at risk of social exclusion“, a regional training of the ARYSE (At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment) Network for advocacy for the promotion of children and young people at risk was held from 5 to 7 July in Bar, Montenegro.

The project is being implemented in six countries from the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo*, Northern Macedonia and Serbia) and aims to contribute to the social inclusion of the larger part of the young people at risk at the regional level, by strengthening the capacities of civil society organizations, regional/national cooperation and advocacy activities.

This training was intended for representatives of the implementing organizations and representatives of the national working groups established within the project. The idea of ​​the training was that the members of the working group and representatives of the organizations form a regional advocacy body which will continue to function after the completion of the project.

During the training, the participants worked to develop a common platform on which they would base their future work on young people at risk. During the training, the participants worked to develop an advocacy plan for all target groups covered by the project: Street youth, Youth who use drugs, Youth in conflict with law, Youth without parental care, Young Roma and Youth from families with history of drug use and/or conflict with law.

The regional body would aim to continue to promote the results of the ARYSE project and to advocate for appropriate guidance created through this project. In addition, the regional body would continuously work on the exchange of information and good practices and the improvement of policies related to young people at risk and the availability of the services designed for them.

The project is implemented by the NGO Juventas (Montenegro), the Association “Prevent” (Serbia), the Association Margina (BiH), ARSIS (Albania), HOPS (Macedonia), Labyrinth (Kosovo) and the Foundation CHL (Germany).

The network of the mentioned organizations that implements activities are aimed at contributing to active participation in the social and social processes of young people from the Western Balkan countries who are at the highest risk of social exclusion.

Drug users are discriminated and without a proper treatment program

HOPS – Healthy Options Skopje hosted the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign activities for the fifth time. The focus of HOPS campaign in 2019 is on the quality of treatment programs in Macedonia. The situation in Kisela Voda community is currently critical, with the Daily Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Addictions.

The campaign Support. Don’t Punish was launched on Facebook and HOPS’s website. They designed and made 5 illustrated messages. Focus groups with drug users took place previously, sharing messages for quality treatment from the discussion. Short videos were posted on Facebook and HOPS’s website. Previously, two videos were shot on sharing the weakness of the drug users’ treatment programs.

press conference during which the key findings from the research on the quality of treatment programs were presented.

At the event in the City Park on 26 June, artist Dreadpen painted graphite. At the same time citizens discussed and delivered messages of support and equal treatment for all. Also, appeals were addressed to the authorities to find a solution for psychosocial support which, besides the medical therapy that now exists, is very important in the treatment process.

Through the research “Quality of addiction treatment programs in Macedonia“, HOPS among other things found out that about 1.1% of the citizens in Macedonia tried opioid drugs and the number of people who use them by injection is estimated at around 6,800. “Only 27% of people who inject drugs in Macedonia are included in treatment programs for addicts, which is below the European average of 50%” states the analysis.

Apart from the dominant substitution therapy with methadone and buprenorphine, other treatment approaches are not available within the public health facilities and there are no programs for the treatment of non-opiate addictions except for alcohol.

There is also a serious deficit of staff with adequate training, especially psychiatrists, in treatment programs throughout the country.

Have a look at the video taken during the campaign

Лекувањето е право, а не привилегија

„Лекувањето е право, а не привилегија!“, но дали сите граѓани уживаат во тоа право? ХОПС по петти пат беше дел од глобалната кампања „Support. Don’t Punish“, а фокусот годинава беше квалитетот на програмите на лекување

Gepostet von Види Вака am Donnerstag, 4. Juli 2019