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

HOPS has a new Executive Director

It is a great news to learn that the Association HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje has recently appointed Ivica Cekovski as the new Executive Director.

Ivica Cekovski is a person dedicated to the advancements of human rights, health and social well-being of all people, particularly for youth and marginalized communities. He received his MD degree from the Medical Faculty in Skopje and his MSc degree in International Health from the Universities in Edinburgh and Amsterdam. Over the last 17 years, he has been building his professional carrier in several civil society organizations, international networks and intergovernmental organizations. He began his engagement with HOPS in 2012 as part of our medical unit and continued to coordinate one of our drop-in centres; he later conducted several crucial nation-wide research projects and joined our advocacy team. His inputs to our work have been valuable and we are confident that now he can contribute to the development of HOPS even more.

HOPS declared that they remain dedicated to protection and promotion of human rights and liberties for the purpose of advancement of health and socio-economic status and access to justice for all people, and particularity for people who use drugs, sex workers and their families. They hope to be able to expand their collaboration with other organizations in order to contribute towards the creation of better society for all.

DPNSEE supports the approach to ensure succession in the organisation by promoting their young activists which achieved a lot of success in their recent work.

We congratulate Ivica and hope to continue good cooperation him and with this member organisation.

Legal needs and access to justice for people who inject drugs and sex workers in Macedonia

Our member organisation HOPS published the Research report: Legal needs and access to justice for people who inject drugs and sex workers in Macedonia.

This research represents the first effort to assess the legal needs and paths to justice for people who inject drugs and sex workers in Macedonia. It was conducted at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 using a mixed-methods research approach. The quantitative phase included 250 respondents chosen through stratified random sampling, out of which 169 inject/injected drugs, and 107 are/were engaged in sex work over the last three and a half years. The qualitative research phase, on the other hand, was comprised of focus group discussions with 69 respondents from both communities, as well as individual or group interviews with 7 representatives from competent institutions.

The research results showed that people who inject drugs and sex workers in Macedonia experience ten times more non-trivial justiciable problems in comparison to the general population in the country. In addition, low level of legal literacy, lack of trust in institutions and systemic discrimination, among other factors, prevent citizens from these communities to seek protection of their rights and delivery of justice through institutional mechanisms. Such circumstances confirm the communities’ high vulnerability and underline the need for advancement of their access to information, legal advice and protection.

The findings pinpoint the necessity to educate people who inject drugs and sex workers on existing institutional mechanisms for protection of rights and delivery of justice, and motivate them to take actions towards legal resolution. Since citizens from these groups trust civil society organizations the most, CSOs are the first instance where they seek free legal advice and aid. Hence, services offered to these communities by civil society organizations need to be developed further, while also advancing the cooperation between the organizations and the competent institutions, including introduction of functional referral mechanisms.

Recommendations of the report also include that overcoming prejudices against people who inject drugs and sex workers in institutions responsible for ensuring the legal order, such as the police, Legal Needs and Access to Justice for People Who Inject Drugs and Sex Workers in Macedonia prosecutors, courts and prisons is crucial. This could be achieved with temporary measures, such as trainings, field and study visits, but also through more sustainable systemic changes in the process of professional training of employees in the aforementioned institutions. Similar measures could be useful for health and social workers

To read full report follow this link>>>>. Version of the report in Macedonian is available following this link >>>>.

Implementing Different Harm Reduction Policies in Macedonia

Janaki Mitrovski, lawyer and co-founder of the Cannabis and Green Policies Association “BILKA” from Skopje, author of articles in the legal magazines “Pravnik” and “Pravomatika”, wrote about different harm reduction policies in Republic of Macedonia for the Drugs – Politics and Practices magazine published by HOPS – Healthy options project Skopje.

Mitrovski spoke about differences in European countries, and he underline the most important thing – urgent implementing program for safe drug use facilities in Republic of Macedonia.

In order to apply some of the existing models practiced or to establish a hybrid and an entirely different model of addressing this issue in the Republic of Macedonia, there are legal obstacles to be considered. Making possible drug use facilities, safe or not, is prohibited and is penalized with Article 216 from the Criminal Code of the Republic of Macedonia, according to which a person who shall provide spaces for the enjoyment of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances shall be punished with imprisonment from 1 to 5 years. A qualified (more severe) form of this act is considered extant if the same is done with respect to a minor person or with respect to a larger group of people or if the deed has caused serious consequences, in which case the doer will be punished with 1 to 10 years of imprisonment. If, however, the act is perpetrated by a legal person, the same will be punished with a fine, and the narcotic drugs, as well as all moveable properties or any real estate used for their transport or distribution, or if they are especially intended for or meant for use, will be confiscated.

He drew attention for legal circumstances in criminal legal system and the result of international legal obligations Republic of Macedonia agreed to with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as well as the 1988 Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, decreed by the United Nations, which go as far as providing legal framework for the signatory countries to even confiscate such spaces.

Unfortunately, the Republic of Macedonia does not allocate even approximately enough funding and has no political will to introduce such programs towards helping drug addicts with harm reduction, as well as protect the very users, but also society, from spread of unwanted diseases”, said Mitrovski.

He concluded that the Republic of Macedonia has to implement one program providing safe drug use spaces in the future, which will provide health benefit for users and also for the citizens.

The entire article “Implementing Different Harm Reduction Policies in the Republic of Macedonia – Safe Drug Use Facilities” is available following this link>>>

Montenegro closed the circle

The training for civil society organisations in Montenegro was the third in raw, to complete the serial of trainings organised in the project countries. It was held in Podgorica from 3 to 5 October 2018.

More info coming soon!

Media coverage from the PR Centre is available following this link>>>

Training for the civil society organisations in Serbia

Association Prevent and Drug Policy Network SEE organized a three-day training “Advocacy of Budgetary Financing of the Harm Reduction Programs in Serbia” from 25 to 27 September at Mt. Avala, near Belgrade. The training was attended by 16 representatives of organizations: Bečej Youth Association, Timok Youth Center, Policy Analysis and Policy Creation Group, Association Remiks, Association Prevent and DPNSEE. The training was led by experts from Macedonia’s Healthy Options Project Skopje and ESE.

The training included general information and practical steps in the advocacy and monitoring process. In addition, Dr Jasmina Tanasić from the Standing Conference of Cities and Municipalities presented the Budget programming model used in the country.

A one-year budget support plan for harm reduction program in Serbia was prepared. According to the plan, in the forthcoming period an analysis of the budget of the Republic of Serbia (Ministry of Health, alcohol and tobacco excise, income from games of chance and opportunity) will be carried out and 4 projects by 4 organizations on the following topics:

  1. Cost-benefit analysis
  2. Analysis of open calls of the Ministry of Health
  3. Political parties and harm reduction
  4. Promotion of the project and results in the public

Open Call for the Award of Small Grants

DPNSEE member organisation Juventas opened a Call for small grants to support the implementation of civil society organisations’ projects for the improvement of social inclusion of at risk children and youth in Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia.

The Call is announced under the “ARYSE (At Risk Youth Social Empowerment)” project, supported by the European Union and implemented by NGO Juventas (Montenegro), the project coordinator, with the partner organisations: ARSIS (Albania), Association MARGINA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), HOPS (Macedonia), Labyrinth (Kosovo), Prevent (Serbia) and SHL Foundation (Germany). The project beneficiaries are children and youth, especially at risk youth (children and youth who use drugs, who are in conflict with the law, who come from families who use drugs and/or are in conflict with the law, who are without parental care, as well as street and Roma children and youth). The project is being implemented under the Civil Society Facility and Media Programme 2014-2015.

The specific objectives of the open call for small grants are:

  • To raise capacities of relevant actors/stakeholders and CSOs in the work with at risk children and youth;
  • To establish, maintain, improve or scale up services for at risk children and youth regarding social inclusion and protection, education, employment, health, security, equality, rights and access to justice;
  • To improve availability of evidence, and advance awareness, policies and practices for the purpose of enchasing social inclusion of at risk children and youth at local or national level.

To be eligible for this Small Grant Call the applicant must fulfil the following requirements:

  • Is registered as non-profit/civil society organisation or network, in accordance with the respective national legislation, in their home country (i.e. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro or Serbia), at least one year before the announcement of this Call;
  • Has its headquarters in its home country (i.e. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro or Serbia);
  • Had an annual budget of EUR 10,000.00 to EUR 100,000.00 in the previous year.

Full information about the Call is available following this link>>>> while the application package is available here>>>>