Good visit at the right time

Delegation of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe visited Serbia from 31 August to 2 September 2016. It was one of the visits in the region in an attempt to understand the situation and meet with a variety of stakeholders in drug policy in the country.

During the first day of the visit the delegation spent in the northern province of Vojvodina, meeting with the Secretary for Health and the Clinic for Addiction in the Clinical Centre of Vojvodina. Visit to Prevent, DPNSEE member organisation was both an opportunity to meet good friends and learn about their committed work, including shelter for sexual workers. The most interesting part of the whole visit was welcome in the Kovilj monastery and later their therapeutic community “The Land of Living” where we had the opportunity to hear true stories of people who fight with their addiction supported by their peers.

The expert view on the situation in Serbia was gained in meetings with doctors in the Special hospital „Drajzerova“ and Institute for public Health „Dr Milаn Јоvаnоvić Bаtut”. We explored opportunities for regional projects in the office of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. A good surprise was meeting with SUPRAM – Association of Lawyers for Medical and Health Law Serbia, with whom we discussed different way of legal protection of rights of drug users. DPNSEE representatives held the press conference in the EU Info Centre.

The key governmental structures dealing with the drug issue are Ministry of Health and newly established Office for combating drugs which is supposed to coordinate the whole system. The Office is open for ideas and contributions from the civil society organisations. Finally, meeting with the Serbian youth umbrella organisation generated good ideas for cooperation, also on the regional level.

The delegation was satisfied with the visit. The main result of the meetings with the officials was good presentation of the new regional organisation which was new for most of them and promises for future cooperation. It was a good moment for the visit, with governmental bodies just being established after the election and other existing institutions needing a new impetus for their work.

Some challenges were also identified, especially weakening of the NGO scene and lack of resources to implement the policies and strategies.

 Honest confessions of the addicts in the therapeutic community “The land of Living”

Featured image: Meeting with the Office for combating drugs