DPNSEE hosted the Donor conference for vulnerable populations in South East Europe on Thursday 6 August 2020. The aim of the Conference was to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes.
The Conference included plenary presentations from the region and donors and work in two separate discussion rooms: Sustainability of services for vulnerable populations and Emerging needs of key populations.
47 representatives of civil society organisations, international organisations and donor community participated.
We hope to produce and distribute the report from the Conference in the next few days.
The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:
Monica Ciupagea, Expert – Drug use and HIV, HIV/AIDS section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who use drugsfollowing this link>>>.
Jan Zlatan Kulenović, Director of Programs, Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO): Supporting Regional Youth Cooperationfollowing this link>>>.
Sergii Filippovych, Project Director, Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine, coordinator of the regional #SOS_project supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Sustainability of services for key populations in EECA & SEE Regionfollowing this link>>>.
Ganna Dovbakh, Executive Director, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association: Key challenges of harm reduction in COVID erafollowing this link>>>.
Yuri de Boer, Senior Program Manager, AFEW International: Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in EECAfollowing this link>>>.
The coronavirus outbreak has a devastating effect on general population around the world as well as on people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups – homeless people, sex workers, LGBTI, women and young people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, people living with HIV and many others. These populations generally have limited or no access to health services, social benefits, clean water and food. Current situation multiplies these obstacles and add new ones.
Since February, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe and our member organisations were primarily engaged on providing support dedicated to the practical strengthening of the health, social, economic and mental resilience of the vulnerable groups of citizens. That included harm reduction and treatment services, fighting stigma and discrimination, providing legal and social advices and responding to a variety of additional needs these groups now have.
The global pandemic requires a global response, and that response has to cover all.
The aim of the Conference is to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes. The Conference will strengthen cooperative ties between potential project implementers from different sectors, increase knowledge of available public and private funding sources and improve strategic coordination between project ideas and funding structures.
South East Europe is usually side-lined in international support to key populations. We sincerely hope that vulnerable groups we serve deserve more attention and support.
The Conference will include plenary presentations from the region and donors, and work in two separate discussion rooms:
Group 1: Sustainability of services for vulnerable populations
Quality assurance in service providing
Bridging funds for emergency situations (COVID and wider)
Children living in families with drug abuse history and young people who use drugs
Group 2: Emerging needs of key populations
Respond to the economic consequences of coronavirus pandemic (empowering, rapid assessments and surveys, practical support on housing, food, clean water supply, etc.)
Involvement of key populations in designing and monitoring of the services for them
The Conference will be held on Thursday 6 August 2020 starting at 13:00 CET (14:00 EEST) via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89837901957. The conference would last for a maximum of 90 minutes.
Access to the Conference will be open. We would appreciate that you apply using following link https://forms.gle/bmDW7q25Ge15o2wW6 and indicate in which small group you would like to participate. If we don’t receive that information, we shall have to make the choice for you.
The Conference will be recorded in audio and visual format. The recording will be used for reporting only.
Following the success of the Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe, held on 23 April 2020, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe organises the Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them?”
During the coronavirus outbreak, DPNSEE and its member organisations were primarily engaged on providing support to key populations we usually serve, which is mainly related to harm reduction and treatment services, fighting stigma and discrimination, providing legal and social advices, etc. Besides these, we learned that they have a variety of additional needs and that the consequences of the situation will be wider.
One of the conclusions of the Conference we held was that it is necessary to observe social and economic impacts of coronavirus epidemic to key populations in South East Europe. That would help to better define the emerging needs of the populations and provide them with better services.
The aim of the Conference is to discuss the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic on key populations in South East Europe.
The Conference should contribute to defining the indicators for collecting data and producing regional Assessments of social, mental and economic impact of coronavirus epidemic to key populations in South East Europe. The indicators will be observed by the DPNSEE member organisations and published quarterly and annually.
The external inputs will be provided by
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) on the initial results of the study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans
Roberto Perez Gayo, Project Officer at the Correlation – Harm Reduction Network, who will present results of the harm reduction response to the epidemic in Europe.
In addition, we expect inputs from the experts, authorities and civil society organisations from the region.
The Conference will be held via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81356455423 on Thursday 16 July 2020 starting at 14:00 CET (15:00 EEST). The conference would last for a maximum of 90 minutes.
The Conference will be recorded in audio and visual format. The recording will be available at the DPNSEE website.
We sincerely hope that you shall join us, contribute to understand the situation in the region better and help define reliable indicators.
Spread of the coronavirus and illness officially known as COVID-19 around the world, in Europe and in the region of South East Europe has a devastating effect on general population as well as on people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable populations (homeless people, sex workers, LGBTI, MSM, people living with HIV and many others).
DPNSEE reacted early on the information about possible outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe sending a Letter to member organisations inviting them to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak with brief instructions, publishing the Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19, sharing and translating instructions and advice on coronavirus and keeping contacts with our member organisations and international partners. We regularly update news from South East Europe – they are available at the News section of our website.
We held conference calls with our member organisations by countries from South East Europe last weeks. We heard a lot of good stories about their work and ideas to share.
Analysing the situation and discussing potential developments during and after the outbreak, the DPNSEE Board decided to hold the on-line Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe. The Conference will be held with support of the Service for Combatting Drug Abuse at the Croatian Institute for Public Health and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC Programme Office in Serbia.
The aim of the Conference is to contribute to ensuring the sustainability of services for key populations during and after the coronavirus epidemic. As stated in the UNODC documentSuggestions about treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorder in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic “it is important to ensure the continuity of adequate access to health and social services for people who use drugs and with drug use disorders and provide the continuum of care required as described in the International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (UNODC/WHO, 2020) to the best extent possible also in times of crisis”.
Besides our members and other civil society organisations from the region and wider, we invite to the Conference national drug agencies and health institutions, international organisations partners and donors.
The Conference will be held via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86072202401 on Thursday 23 April 2020 starting at 14:00 CET (15:00 EEST). The conference would last for a maximum of two hours.
The Agenda will include two items:
Overview of situation with coronavirus among vulnerable populations in South East Europe.
Proposed actions to ensure sustainability of services for key populations during and after the coronavirus epidemic.
The background documents for the Conference we plan to prepare and post here in the next few days include:
Overview of the situation with coronavirus COVID-19 in SEE with two annexes (available here>>> with both annexes or here>>> as a separate document):
Annex 1 – Information received from countries of South East Europe during conference calls (available here>>>)
Annex 2 – DPNSEE activities during the coronavirus outbreak (available here>>>)
Draft list of actions and measures to ensure sustainability of services for key populations during and after the coronavirus epidemic (in progress).
In preparations for the Conference, we shall also use and refer to the documents which are also produced and promoted internationally, including those from UNODC, UNAIDS, EMCDDA and other national and international intergovernmental and civil society organisations.
We sincerely hope that you shall join us in this effort to make sure that a truly inclusive universal health coverage grounded on rights-based laws, policies and procedures is achieved by prioritizing and protecting vulnerable groups.
Together with our member organisations Prevent and Re Generation, DPNSEE have prepared information and instructions for protection against coronavirus in Serbian for people in risk from vulnerable populations we support. We used several sources: INPUD, Leafly,Crew and BesD.
The instructions are printed in 500 – 2.000 copies to share to the key populations.
These instructions will be available in various institutions and civil society organisations in Serbia. We expect that they will be adjusted to local languages in some other countries of South East Europe.
On the initiative from civil society organisations, following the DPNSEE Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19, a meeting was called by the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia to discuss the measures to protect people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups. The meeting was held on 13 March with representatives of the Office, Ministry of Health, Special Hospital for Addictions and four civil society organisations.
All participants agreed that vulnerable groups need to be supported for their personal and protection of the entire society. Conclusions include
By noon on Monday 16 all service providers will send estimations of their needs for materials they need to protect the key populations they serve and their staff. The Office for Combating Drugs will collect them and send a joint request to the Ministry of social affairs. Once they are provided, they will be distributed to the organisations.
The Office will also request for an information about the needs of the shelters for children, young people and elderly and try to organise support to them.
Funds for the additional support will be requested from the project supported by the Global Fund and Ministry of Health, at least for the staff supporting the key affected populations.
Civil society organisations are preparing specific instructions for people who use drugs and other vulnerable populations and share them both through social networks and printed materials.
In December 2019, a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first isolated from three patients with pneumonia, connected to the cluster of acute respiratory illness cases from Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. More about the virus is available in the video bellow.
According to the latest epidemiological data on 25 February, the total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 80,407 globally, and 2,708 people have died from the virus, which puts the mortality rate at nearly 3.4%. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation with ongoing outbreak investigations. More about the virus is available at the World Health Organisation webpage following this link>>> and at the webpage of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Outbreak of the epidemic in Italy, neighbouring country to our region, saw 322 cases in a very short period of time, with 11 deaths, while cities of Cremona and Brescia turned into quarantine. First cases were also reported in Croatia, Romania, North Macedonia and Greece and also in Austria. It is pretty realistic that they will appear in other South East European countries.
In the exchange which the DPNSEE Board had, we expressed concern that the health systems may not have fully in their sight the key populations we are supporting (and people with substance use disorder, especially heroin users, are usually in a weak health conditions), that these populations, being side-lined in the community, may not be well informed about the threat and measures they should take to protect themselves and that our organisations, especially those who provide services to people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable groups should also play they role in overall efforts to fight the problems caused by this epidemic.
DPNSEE invited its member organisations to act locally but also to act together, share experiences, actions and results they achieve.
We see our role in three dimensions:
While the coronavirus is still a threat, you may participate in calming the situation and avoiding panic which may occur, inform people you are supporting about the protective measures against the coronavirus and make all necessary steps internally to be prepared for possible dark scenarios.
If COVID-19 cases appear in your country, you may intensify communication and advising the key populations, activate full spectrum of protection measures for your staff and establish close cooperation with authorities, especially national and local public health authority to advice on necessary steps.
If you find yourself locked in a quarantine area, please fully respect all necessary advices and make sure that your people are safe, but also offer services other than your ordinary actions to support overall efforts of overcoming the critical situation.
DPNSEE invites authorities to pay specific attention to vulnerable populations, which may remain invisible in situations when major efforts are needed for an effective respond to the crisis.
The corona virus COVID-19 is a serious treat, but not more dangerous than usual influence we face every winter. With good preparations and respecting necessary prevention measures, its effects may be reduced and minimised. DPNSEE wants to ensure that people we serve, our staff and societies in general are prepared to fight this challenge.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released new recommendations on 10 ways that countries can use digital health technology, accessible via mobile phones, tablets and computers, to improve people’s health and essential services.
Over the past two years, WHO systematically reviewed evidence on digital technologies and consulted with experts from around the world to produce recommendations on some key ways such tools may be used for maximum impact on health systems and people’s health.
One digital intervention already having positive effects in some areas is sending reminders to pregnant women to attend antenatal care appointments and having children return for vaccinations. Other digital approaches reviewed include decision-support tools to guide health workers as they provide care; and enabling individuals and health workers to communicate and consult on health issues from across different locations.
The guideline emphasizes the importance of reaching vulnerable populations, and ensuring that digital health does not endanger them in any way.
The guideline demonstrates that health systems need to respond to the increased visibility and availability of information. People also must be assured that their own data is safe and that they are not being put at risk because they have accessed information on sensitive health topics, such as sexual and reproductive health issues.
The guidelines also makes recommendations about telemedicine, which allows people living in remote locations to obtain health services by using mobile phones, web portals, or other digital tools. WHO points out that this is a valuable complement to face-to-face-interactions, but it cannot replace them entirely. It is also important that consultations are conducted by qualified health workers and that the privacy of individuals’ health information is maintained.
This guideline represents the first of many explorations into the use of digital technologies and has only covered a fraction of the many aspects of digital health.
In 2018, governments unanimously adopted a World Health Assembly resolution calling on WHO to develop a global strategy on digital health to support national efforts to achieve universal health coverage. That strategy is scheduled to be considered at the World Health Assembly in 2020.
To support governments in monitoring and coordination of digital investments in their country, WHO has developed the Digital Health Atlas, an online global repository where implementers can register their digital health activities.