Mental Health Challenges Faced by Harm Reduction Staff

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) published Civil Society-led Monitoring of Harm Reduction In Europe 2023 Data Report, dedicated to the well-being and working environment of harm reduction staff. The study focuses on the various challenges harm reduction workers encounter in their work and how those challenges affect them and their organisations, as well as coping mechanisms and organisational opportunities for support.

The participants in this study are identified as focal points within the C-EHRN. The network encompasses a diverse array of contributors, including grassroots and community-based organisations, service providers, drug user organisations, and research entities. Within this network, focal points act as hubs for collecting data and information on a broad range of issues related to harm reduction in the cities they work.

The report is available following this link>>>.

 

Civil Society Demands Balanced EU Funding for Drug Policies

Civil society organisations sent an open letter to the EU Commission to criticise the new call for drug policy grant proposals that almost only focuses on law enforcement and excludes harm reduction.

Since the Drug Unit of the EU Commission was relocated to the Internal Security Department, civil society has been concerned about the continuous shifting of its approach towards a more repressive, law-and-order direction from a balanced, integrated model of drug policies.

The new call for proposals launched by the Commission is another step in this direction. Unlike the previous EC JUST drug policy grant calls, this funding mechanism almost only focuses on supply reduction. From its four objectives, three focuses on improving supply reduction, it has only one objective on drug prevention – while harm reduction is completely missing.

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN), an umbrella of European harm reduction organisations (Rights Reporter Foundation, the organisation operating this website, is a Steering Committee member) sent an open letter to Ilva Johanson, Commissioner of Home Affairs, and Fiona Sipala, the head of the Drug Unit of the EC, to address this issue.

The text of the open letter:

We write to you on behalf of Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN), representing 158 civil society organisations (CSO) working in the area of harm reduction drug policy in Europe. C-EHRN is part of Foundation De Regenboog Groep and, as such, is also represented in the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs.

 Together with the undersigned networks, we would like to express our concern and disappointment with the current call of the Internal Security Grant concerning better law enforcement in the area of illicit drug trafficking. We believe this call does not reflect the principles of an evidence-based, integrated, balanced and multidisciplinary approach to the drugs phenomenon and is not in line with the Drug Strategy of the European Union. The call has a narrow focus on law enforcement interventions, with no objectives to improve complex public health and social services, including harm reduction.

 For several years, the members and organisations we work with have benefited from the EC JUST Drug Policy grants launched by the European Commission. These grants demonstrated the balanced, evidence-based and multidisciplinary approach to drug policies in accordance with the core principles of the European Union. They provided an excellent opportunity for civil society organisations working in the field of drugs to cooperate internationally and exchange knowledge and good practices.

 When the Drugs Unit was moved from the Justice Department to the Internal Security Department, civil society organisations were promised that this would not affect the balanced and multidisciplinary approach to drug policies of the EU Commission. However, the apparent shift towards law enforcement and crime prevention proves different – with social and public health aspects slipping off the agenda.

 The Internal Security call lays only limited emphasis on drug demand reduction and none at all on harm reduction. At the same time, no other EU Programme took over this responsibility, leaving drug demand and harm reduction behind, without any opportunity for EU funding and support.

 This is an extremely concerning development. EU funding has become increasingly important in recent years because of the emerging funding crisis for harm reduction, especially in the Eastern part of the European Union. Since the 2008 economic crisis, funding for harm reduction has constantly been declining in most Member States. Several essential services operated by CSOs have been closed down or curtailed due to budget cuts and the retreat of international donors.

 On top of the funding crisis, CSOs experience a shrinking space for civil society in several Member States, where governments are increasingly hostile to those organisations that receive international funding or work with marginalised groups of society. With decreasing national and local funds, direct funding from the European Commission was often the only funding opportunity to improve advocacy and innovation in the harm reduction field for many organisations. This opportunity is now lost.

 DG Home is the department within the EC responsible for developing and implementing a balanced, integrated and evidence-based EU Drug Policy. Such a balanced approach requires that funding mechanisms are available for all drug policy areas and not only for law enforcement and crime prevention programmes. We, therefore, call upon the European Commission and DG Home to reinstall the funding mechanism for drug demand and harm reduction to ensure a balanced and evidence-based drug policy also in the future.

 We look forward to your response and hope for your continued support for civil society in the area of drug policy and harm reduction.

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe is one of the signatory Networks & Organizations to this letter. Other include:

  • AIDS Action Europe [AAE]
  • EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs1
  • EU HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis Civil Society Forum
  • Eurasian Harm Reduction Association [EHRA]
  • European AIDS Treatment Group [EATG]
  • European Network of People Who Use Drugs [EuroNPUD]
  • Forum Droghe
  • Harm Reduction International [HRI]
  • Federation des Acteurs en Education en Promotion de la Sante de Guyane [AGRRR]
  • International Drug Policy Consortium [IDPC]
  • International Network of People Who Use Drugs [INPUD]
  • MAINline
  • Positive Voice
  • Red de Atencion a las Adicciones [UNAD]
  • ReShape
  • Youth Organizations for Drug Actions [YODA]

 

An interesting discussion about the harm reduction crisis in SEE

On the 20th of April 2022, the three Networks organized a Webinar on Harm reduction crisis in South East Europe. During this event, national decision-makers from the region, researchers, harm reduction service providers, community and civil society representatives came together to present and discuss the key findings of the research activities.

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Drug Policy Network of South-Eastern Europe have been working together to advocate for addressing the harm reduction crisis in South East Europe since 2019.

Countries of South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, are experiencing relatively high levels of HIV and HVC infection among people who inject drugs. However, due to limited domestic resources and the gradual withdrawal of the Global Fund from the region, the governments of these countries are facing a lack of resources to continue the long-term funding of comprehensive harm reduction programmes.

During this webinar, C-EHRN, EHRA and DPNSE present the research Crisis in harm reduction funding: The impact of transition from Global Fund to Government support and opportunities to achieve sustainable harm reduction services for people who inject drugs in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia they have conducted in the area and discuss its key findings, which include among others:

  • Common challenges of scaling-up harm reduction programmes in the countries of South-Eastern Europe.
  • Consequences of the limited funding of the harm reduction services for public health and national healthcare systems.
  • Opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

Building upon this research, this publication, and also policy briefing and factsheet, highlight opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

Recording of the Webinar is available below.

Harm reduction crisis in South East Europe

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Drug Policy Network of South-Eastern Europe have been working together to advocate for addressing the harm reduction crisis in South East Europe since 2019.

The three networks are hosting an online discussion about the funding challenges and opportunities for governments to the crisis of harm reduction services in SEE countries and the Balkans.

The webinar will take place on the 20th of April from 13:00h to 14:30h CET.

Countries of South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, are experiencing relatively high levels of HIV and HVC infection among people who inject drugs. However, due to limited domestic resources and the gradual withdrawal of the Global Fund from the region, the governments of these countries are facing a lack of resources to continue the long-term funding of comprehensive harm reduction programmes.

During this webinar, C-EHRN, EHRA and DPNSE will present the research they have conducted in the area as well as opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

The webinar is open to national decision-makers from the SEE region, the Balkans and other European countries, researchers, harm reduction activists, civil society representatives, harm reduction service providers and the media.

The event will be held in English. To register and to receive the complete webinar agenda, please fill in the form https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-4Dh14MmQumJc3mPJxZgOw

Please contact for more details: Roberto Perez Gayo rpgayo@correlation-net.org

 

Crisis in harm reduction funding

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Drug Policy Network of South-Eastern Europe have been working together to advocate for addressing the harm reduction crisis in South East Europe since 2019.

Countries of South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, are experiencing relatively high levels of HIV and HVC infection among people who inject drugs, including those who inject psychoactive substances. However, due to limited domestic resources and the gradual withdrawal of the Global Fund from the region, the governments of these countries are facing a lack of resources to continue the long-term funding of comprehensive harm reduction programmes. In addition to these and other barriers, in some countries, there is no legal basis for NGOs to provide services to marginalized populations, including people who use drugs.

Graham Shaw produced the research he have conducted with our and support of our colleagues from the region.

The following report, policy briefing and factsheet present and analyze current common challenges of scaling-up harm reduction programmes in the countries of South-Eastern Europe and the consequences of the limited funding of the harm reduction services for public health and national healthcare systems. Building upon this research, these publications highlight opportunities available for the governments of the region to act and invest funds and efforts in effective and proven models of harm reduction in their respective countries.

Report

 

 

 

 

 

 

Policy brief

 

 

 

 

 

 

Factsheet

Civil Society Perspective on Harm Reduction in Europe

Europe represents one of the regions of the world with the greatest number of harm reduction services.

There is no other region in the world where more than 90% of the countries have at least one NSP or OST site, and more than 90% of the countries reference harm reduction in their national drug policies. Nevertheless, stigma and discrimination against people who use drugs continue to exist, and much is needed in terms of supporting and securing access to services and human rights to all different groups of people who use drugs.

More such data can be exclusively found in the second civil society-led monitoring of harm reduction report The Civil Society-led Monitoring of Harm Reduction in Europe 2020 published by the Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network. With more than one hundred contributors and Focal Points from 34 European countries involved, the report aims to make a necessary and useful contribution to the development of drug policy in the region.

Compared to 2019’s report, the information provided in 2020, brings to the forefront of the situation in particular cities or regions showing the experiences of harm reduction providers on the ground. It also bring direct perspectives of people who use drugs. This significant approach will hopefully provide an understanding of the successes and challenges of drug policy and harm reduction implementation.

To read the Report, please follow this link>>>.

5th harm reduction conference postponed

The Fifth European Harm Reduction Conference, planned for 4 to 6 November 2020 in Prague, Czechia, is finally postponed.

The organiser of the Conference Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network made a lot on preparations, including exploring different options for holding it. Unfortunately, they had to postpone it for the next year. Here is their message:

In regard of the still unstable situation around COVID-19 and our discussions with main partners, we decided to postpone the conference to 2021. We waited as long as possible for this decision because we think face to face meetings are crucial and important also under this threat, but the disadvantages are too strong to neglect.  

We aim to organise the meeting at the earliest (safe) opportunity in 2021 and come back to you with more information soon. We hope you continue to stay with us during the new process of preparations.

 

World Hepatitis Day 2020

Worldwide, 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost.

World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28 July bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. In 2020 the theme is ‘Find the Missing Millions’. Have a look at the promotional video of the campaign in 2020

WHD is a day for the world’s hepatitis community to unite and make our voices heard. It’s a day to celebrate the progress we have made and to meet the current challenges. It’s also an opportunity for us to increase awareness and encourage a real political change to jointly facilitate prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

WHD is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the importance of knowing your hepatitis status and to spread the word about treatment.

Whether you have one minute or an hour, there are plenty of ways you can get involved in World Hepatitis Day. Find out how to join following this link>>>.

 

The WHO Regional Office for Europe published Compendium of good practices in the health sector response to viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region. It includes 34 practice examples from 18 Member States in the European Region authored by various actors in the collective response to viral hepatitis, including government and national viral hepatitis programmes, academia and public health institutes/research institutes and NGOs and CSOs. The Compendium is available for free download following this link>>>.

 

To inspire and challenge you with its essential stories, our colleagues from Correlation – Harm Reduction Network collected and published Good Practice Examples of hepatitis C interventions which is the first of its kind with a focus on civil society organisations in Europe.

A realistic insight into the consequences of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations

DPNSEE held 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?” with support of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions and Correlation – Harm Reduction Network.

39 representatives of civil society organisations, national drug agencies, international organisations and agencies and donor community participated.

Initial results of the EMCDDA study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans, as well as Correlation’s approach to collecting data from the point of view of civil society which can be of use in establishing our indicators and method of collecting them. Our colleagues gave us a very realistic view on the situation in their countries and efforts they made to provide services needed.

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:

  • Kateřina Škařupová, PhD, Scientific analyst on health at the IPA project, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA): Initial results of the study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans following this link>>>
  • Roberto Perez Gayo, Project Officer at the Correlation – Harm Reduction Network: Results of the harm reduction response to the epidemic in Europe following this link>>>
  • Marija Radović, Coordinator of the department of direct assistance to people who use/inject drugs, sex workers and prisoners at Juventas, Montenegro: The influence of the COVID19 on the social and economic status of persons who use/inject drugs following this link>>>

 

Update on the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference

From the Correlation webpage

The unexpectedly prolonged uncertainty in the future of international events and meetings caused by COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down our preparations of the Conference as well. However, the epidemic also made the significant role of our work focus, harm reduction, even more strongly certain.

 The 5th European Harm Reduction Conference now aims to serve as the platform where all the vital exchange of our “pandemic” experiences takes place, as well. Currently, we are busy fine-tuning the Conference, with a couple of adjustments such as ensuring the necessary social distancing and enabling video streaming opportunities just in case.

We have almost finalised the Conference programme and speaker list.

“Objects or subjects? Youth in drug policy and harm reduction services”
“Migrant sex workers right to health, safety and protection”
“New Psychoactive Substances, Drug Injecting and Sex”
 and
“Sustainability and accessibility of OAT Programs in the Context of COVID-19 and Transition” are only a couple of the highlights from the Conference programme.

The complete list of sessions and their details are HERE

 If the Conference cannot take place on the envisaged dates, we plan to organise virtual conference sessions between 4 – 6 November and to postpone the face-to-face Conference to 2021.

Your registration is valid for the postponed event as well, but if you wish, your registration fee could be refunded too.

Please be aware that hotel and flight bookings can be refunded in almost all cases.

You can check out the Conference website for updates HERE or subscribe to our newsletter, so we send them to your inbox.