Paris Pact Expert Working Group on Integrating Drug Dependence and Care in the Public Health
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia and the Government of the Republic of Serbia hosted the Paris Pact Expert Working Group (EWG) on Integrating Drug Dependence Treatment in the Public Health System. The meeting was held at the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade on 10 and 11 October 2016.
The meeting of this working group is part of the activities of the Paris Pact Initiative and the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). Participants had the opportunity to discuss current trends and scientifically based approach to the treatment of drug addicts, as well as the implications of UNGASS-a – special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the global drugs problem. UNODC also introduced international standards of treatment of drug addiction, common document prepared by UNODC and the World Health Organization.
The event brought together 64 participants representing 22 member countries of the Paris Pact Initiative (Central Asia, Iran and the Balkan) and 3 international organisations. It included the series of interactive sessions where participants discussed, among other things, about the general situation regarding the use of drugs as well as on national systems for the treatment of addiction in the public health system.
The meeting started with the presentation of international standards of treatment of disorders of the drug use by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organization, presented by the Dr. Elizabeth Sáenz, UNODC, with the objective to exchange and discuss frameworks for the integration of treating drug addiction in the health care system.
What followed were presentations by the member countries of the Paris Pact on national systems of treatment for substance use and the system of prevention; shortcomings and challenges and the Round Table with the objectives to identify gaps and challenges in the process of building a comprehensive and integrated system for the treatment of drugs in accordance with the international standards.
Special emphasis was given to group discussion on the existing mechanisms for quality assurance in the countries of Western and Central Asia and the Balkans, with group work discussion on common regional issues and explore opportunities for regional cooperation.
DPNSEE staff members, as well as representatives of the two Network’s member organisations (Prevent and Re Generacija) and few other civil society organisations from Serbia, were part of the Balkan Working group. The group made conclusions and gave recommendations on several topics such as Policy, Research, Prevention and Treatment regarding the challenges, needs gaps and opportunities. It was concluded that for the matter of the policy there are National strategies in the region but there is no specified budget for their implementation. Regarding prevention it was concluded that there is no enough evidence based treatment programs, and not enough prevention programs integrated in the curriculum of schooling systems, that could adequately address the needs. For the matter of the research, there is not enough funding and resources, and it is seen as a missing ring. Throughout whole discussion it was highly recognized that the leave of the Global Fund and lack of readiness of the Government to support and make services sustainable as a biggest problem. Lack of programs for rehabilitation and re-socialization is recognized along with lack of harm reduction programs, but mostly by the NGOs that were invited to participate in the discussion.
Second day continued with presentation from the members of the Paris Pact, and presentations that were oriented on emphasis of a multi-sectorial approach in the treatment and care of drug addicts.
The members of the DPNSEE stuff and representatives of DPNSEE member organizations had a lot of contacts with country representatives at the Workshop. They were approached by the delegates from Uzbekistan and The Russian Federation, expressing interest in work of the civil society organisations in the region of South East Europe and wish to connect and cooperate more in the future.
The expert meeting closed with review of the expert recommendations, a summary of conclusions and discussion in order to assess progress and consider putting priority conclusions with concrete and measurable proposals for the enforceable improvement.