With over 240 member organisations World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) organises a World Forum Against Drugs every two years and hosts regional conferences together with members throughout the year. The regional Forums against Drugs are hosted in strategic location throughout the world. This year, Belgrade, Serbia has been selected to host the First Regional Forum on Drug Addiction and Recovery for the Balkan region, to be held in Belgrade, Serbia, 19 – 20 of November 2019. The Forum is being organised as part of the ongoing regional project which is a joint cooperation between World Federation Against Drugs and three leading Civil Society organisations in the Balkan region: Izlazak, Celebrate Recovery and Preporod. The three organisation are working within the recovery field and providing support services to active users, individuals in recovery and members of their families, and they are actively involved in shaping drug policies in their countries.
The Forum will focus on Drug Addiction and Recovery within the Balkan region, bringing together representatives of civil society and local authorities. During a two-day Forum, participants are welcomed to a mixture of speeches, testimonies and workshops highlighting the main theme which are addiction and recovery, but will, among other, cover areas such as prevention, the legal status and decriminalization of cannabis and many other. The Forum will further present the results of joint project entitled “Choose Recovery” in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.
With knowledge of your excellent work, organisers extend a formal invitation for participation in the Regional Forum. The hosts will cover accommodations.
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.
The Office for combating drugs of the Government of Serbia signed on 10 January 2018 Memorandum of Understanding with 11 civil society organisations from Serbia, confirming the importance of civil society organizations and the need for their active involvement in the implementation of drug policy and promoting a new concept of cooperation between state bodies and civil society organizations. Civil society organizations now have the opportunity to join together with state authorities in establishing a broad social platform needed for creating an effective, global standards based and comprehensive drug policy.
The Memorandum was designed in partnership with the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of Government of Serbia and civil society organisations. Organisations were invited to apply through a public call.
Drug Policy Network South East Europe was one of 11 organisations with whom the Memorandum of Understanding was signed: Nova Plus, Izlazak, Re Generation, Prevent, Duga, Timočki omladinski centar, Jazas Pozarevac, as well as from Novi Sad, Kokoro and Zemlja živih.
The Acting director of the Office for combating drugs of the Government of Serbia Milan Pekić underlined that civil society organisations are significantly contributing to implementation of the Strategy for combating drugs. He also stressed that CSOs have direct access to people using drugs. They have an important role in implementing plans and organising activities, from prevention to treatment and harm reduction.
Civil society representatives emphasized that cooperation with the Office for combating drugs is a huge step forward, significant recognition of their work and an opportunity for working together.
Since 2001 31st September has been marked around the World as the International Overdose Awareness Day in order to raise public awareness of the most risky outcome of the use of psychoactive substances and gave the meaning to deceased overdoses. Serbia was on the world map of countries that marked this day in 2017 under the slogan “Memory Recollection, Time for Action”.
Overdoses with the deadly outcome due to the use of drugs, alcohol and uncontrolled use of medicines are on the rise, especially among young people. Drug users, one of the most marginalized groups in our society, do not have to be condemned to death by overdosing.
In the city of Pančevo, organisation Nova+ organised street action, to join the world network of cities where this day is marked by burning candles for the deceased and sharing information and educational materials regarding prevention of overdose and also to raise awareness of this problem in the society.
The marking of the day continued in with the open talk in the Apollo Hall, where professionals were discussing the problematizing this this issue in relation to Serbia through an open talk. Invited speakers were Nenad Živković writer and journalist, moderator, Osmah Hamzagić representing the Public Health Institute Pančevo, Aleksandar Žugić from NGO Izlazak, Irena Molnar in the name of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe and host Branislav Princip from Nova+ organisation.
Conclusion of almost two hours of talk was as expected: society has a problem with overdoses – Serbia is not excluded. The first step in preventing overdose has to be raising awareness of the issue and recognising it as a public health problem that has social consequences. Recognition of symptoms, proper treatment in this case and the latest pharmacological preparations for the prevention of fatal outcome, which are recommended around the world, should become common practice in Serbia too.