On October 2 – 3, the coordination meeting of the multi-country #sos_project, managed implemented by the consortium led by the Alliance for Public Health was held in Skopje, North Macedonia. The project team met with colleagues from the Balkan region to discuss budget advocacy issues, further interaction and strengthening of cooperation between EECA and the Balkans.
The priority areas of the cooperation are:
Implementation of WHO protocols with the inclusion of assisted and self-tested HIV testing.
ART price optimization.
Development of regulatory changes to improve the quality of HIV services.
Popularization of PrEP in the region of Southeast Europe.
DPNSEE President Vlatko Dekov and Board member Denis Dedajić presented our work on budget advocacy and monitoring in countries of South East Europe, supported by the European Harm Reduction Association and Open Society Foundations.
The Drug Policy Network in South East Europe Board held a regular board meeting in Skopje from 28 to 28 September 2019. All 7 Board members and Executive Director participated.
Significant part of the meeting was dedicated to developing DPNSEE strategic plan. Using the results of the Strategic workshop held in May, the Board worked on the text of a stagey document which will be shared with the member organisations for consultations, to be completed at the General Assembly.
The Board discussed activities held in between the two meetings and projects which are being implemented or planned for the future.
The tentative days for the annual General Assembly are 16 to 18 December 2019. The Assembly will be held in Belgrade.
The Board proposes that all member organisations should re-affirm their acceptance of the DPNSEE Mission and Vision and formally sign it.
The Board was informed about critical situations of harm reduction services in Bulgaria and Bosnia Herzegovina and discussed potential ways to help member organisations.
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.
A 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!“, 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
“Decriminalization of the use of cannabis can have economic benefits for citizens, for agriculture and for the state,” is the general conclusion of the hearing “The economic and health benefits of legalization of cannabis in the Republic of Macedonia”. The debate was organised in the Economic Affairs Committee of the Assembly of the Republic of Northern Macedonia on 22 February 2019..
Various opinions on the economic and health benefits of cannabis, its use in agriculture and industry, the need for appropriate legal changes for better regulation of this matter, recommendations and appropriate education of the necessary personnel were highlighted at the public debate.
John Ilija Apelgrin and Janaki Mitrovski, founders of the NGO Bilka addressed the public debate. Representatives of Neuromedica Medical Center, Clinic for Pediatric Diseases, civil sector, Clinic for Toxicology, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food, Faculty of Pharmacy, NGO Bivium and several parliamentarians participated in the debate.
Several activities took place as part of this year’s “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign in Macedonia, among which central was a Public debate on recreational drug use and harm reduction.
In preparation for the debate, informational flyers were prepared; containing information on most commonly used drugs in Macedonia in recreational settings, as well as advises on harm reduction and rights. An event page was created and promoted on Facebook, and the event was announced via the media.
The Public debate took place on 26 June 2018. Dr. Davor Smilanov (HOPS’s collaborator) moderated the debate, while the discussion panel was composed of Dr. Darko Kostovski (psychiatrist), Ivana Dragshich (sociologist and activist) and Dragana Drndarevska (lawyer and activist). Around 50 people attended the event. They had the chance to purchase t-shirts and bags prepared by the HOPS’s creative workshop, the funds from which were donated back to the workshop towards its sustainability. In addition, the debate was streamed live (and later posted) on HOPS’s page, reaching about 1.200 views (https://www.facebook.com/hops.org/videos/1259588700811262/). The conclusions from the debate were shared via HOPS’s communication channels, with special focus on laws and practices that criminalize drug use and their adverse effect on individual rights, health and other aspects of living.
The campaign concluded during D-Fest (music festival that took place 6-8 July 2018), where HOPS’s team had an informational stand, organized educational workshops and hosted creative workshops, all with the purpose to inform attendants about effects of different drugs, strategies for harm reduction, as well as individual rights.
The Prime Minister and Minister of Health of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia hosted a South-Eastern European Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Responses to HIV and TB in Skopje on 7 May 2018. The aim of the Ministerial Meeting was to discuss the progress, challenges and opportunities towards reaching sustainable responses to HIV and TB in South-Eastern Europe. Civil society representatives had an opportunity to join the high level representatives from all SEE countries, donors and global development partners and exchange about progress made and what remains to be done to meet the goal of ending the AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics in the region as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The ministers recognized increasing ownership of the national responses to the diseases, as external financial support including from the Global Fund is transitioning to support countries with the highest global burdens of disease and least economic capacity. The ministers expressed commitment to allocating domestic funding for and ensuring access to HIV and tuberculosis treatment for all, guided by governance structures that involve civil society and affected communities along with health professionals and technical partners. Still, a few comments from the civil organisations warned that the situation is far from satisfying and that “behind numbers are people about whom we need to care” – as underlined by the DPNSEE Board member Denis Dedajić.
DPNSEE representatives Vlatko Dekov, Chairman of the Board, Denis Dedajić, Secretary of the Board and Milutin Milošević, Executive Director, met with several Global Fund Board members, country representatives, donors and civil society colleagues. An important meeting was the one with Ekaterina Lukicheva from the Open Society Foundations International Harm Reduction Development Program and Raminta Štuikyte, consultant about the budget advocacy and implementation project and other ideas for future cooperation.
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, at its 39th Board meeting, highlighted the importance of strengthening sustainability and supporting successful transition to domestic financing to build long-term solutions and achieve greater health security.
The Global Fund is committed to being a good partner in working toward sustainability, acting as a catalyst to additional investment, filling short-term gaps, and addressing bottlenecks to successful transition to more domestic funding. While shifting financing often includes challenges, including how to effectively fund civil society, transition increases country ownership and is necessary to end epidemics.
An important news for the region is that the Board approved an approach to ineligible upper-middle income countries in crisis where economic and epidemiological metrics are collapsing and where spill overs threaten regional progress against HIV, TB and malaria.
The Drug Policy Network South East Europe Board held a regular meeting in Skopje from 28 February to 2 March 2018. 5 of 7 Board members and Staff participated.
Significant part of the meeting was dedicated to reviewing the results of the work in the previous year and evaluating the growth of the Networks activities and actions on national, regional and the global scene. The Board sees 2017 as a year full of activities with DPNSEE international recognition and improved profile.
At the General Assembly in 2016, DPNSEE made first step in developing DPNSEE strategic plan. Following the discussion at the 2017 General Assembly, Board took steps to continue strategic discussion to identify priorities for the work in 2018 and beyond. Analysis of the DPNSEE Code of Conduct concentrated on the Board dynamics and improving relations with member organisations.
The Operational plan for 2018 includes more actions and activities for the upcoming year: capacity building, resource centre, additional translations of the Glossary of term used in drug policy, documenting cases of discrimination of vulnerable populations and international developments.
The Board accepted the information about the move of the Office and potential restructuring of the Staff.
The EU funded project ARYSE (At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment), implemented in 6 Western Balkans countries aims to contribute to achievement of social inclusion of most At-Risk Youth at the regional level, by strengthening CSOs capacities, regional/national cooperation and advocacy actions. The specific objective of the action is to support equal access to education, employment, justice and other related fields to most At-Risk Youth in the Balkan countries, by fostering the level of active participation and inclusion of CSOs representing young people in decision making and reform processes.
Youth from families with history of drug use and/or conflict with law
Youth who use drugs
Youth in conflict with law
Youth without parental care
The training mainly organised to provide material for future procedures and guidelines is being held in Skopje, Macedonia, from 15 to 18 October 2017. Experts – Nevena Nikolić, Vlatko Dekov, Dardan Berisha, Jarmila Bujak Stanko, Violeta Kola, dr Meliha Bijedić, dr Anita Burgund and Katarina Mitić – prepared draft standards for specific topics of the project.
More about the project is available at the website HERE>>>
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.
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.
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.