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.

 

Our initiative presented at the Global Fund Board meeting

The Developing Country NGO Delegation at the Global Fund published a statement with the 42nd Board Meeting highlights, including 8 important matters they pushed for at the meeting, with ways that civil society can move them forward. The statement is available following this link>>>

The initiative of the three regional networks: Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Eurasian Harm reduction Network and Drug Policy Network South East Europe to respond to the critical situation concerning the sustainability of harm reduction services in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania was among the issues that the Delegation raised at the Global Fund Board meeting. It is mentioned in the point 4 of the statement:

Addressing civil society concerns: The Developing Country NGO brought to the Board and bilateral meetings concerns raised by civil society organisations including those by nearly 100 NGOs about the ending of multi-country grants in West Africa; cases of the failed transitions and interruption of services for key populations, including the lack of funding for harm reduction programs in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina , Romania and Bulgaria; and exploring next steps to ensure access to health services, treatment and care in Venezuela.

We hope that the Global Fund will make some concrete steps in helping us find a quick response to the urgent needs and building a sustainable solution in these countries.

 

European Hepatitis C Community Summit

The 3rd European Hepatitis C Community Summit was held in Marseille, on 25 and 26 November 2019. The aim of the Summit was to bring together researcher, health and community workers, medical staff and HCV patients and advocates to discuss elimination of the disease and role of harm reduction and community services. The event was organised by Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, in cooperation with the European Union funded Eurosider project.

The programme contained plenary and parallel sessions and focused on priorities for community involvement and advocacy targets for after the event.

A variety of examples of good practice was presented during parallel sessions on: Models of good practice, HCV in prison, Peer Involvement works – we just need to implement it, Capacity building, Access to services, ODBuster – Digitally Networking the Response to Opioid Overdose Emergencies, HCV prevention for (un) documented migrants and Building Capacity to support People who use drugs. Probably the most interesting one was on HCV in prison.

Several representatives of DPNSEE member organisations participated, including Aksion Plus, Margina, Proi, Prometheus, Juventas, HOPS, Positive Voice, ARAS and Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations for Drugs and Addictions in Slovenia. The DPNSEE Board member Marios Atzemis was member of the planning team of the Summit.

The French Embassy in Belgrade provided support for two representatives from Serbia. One was from the Institute for Public Health while the second was DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević.

At the Summit, a statement about the negative effects of criminalisation on health and well being of people who use drugs entitled The decriminalisation of drug use and ensuring national funding of key services will reduce death, disease and marginalisation of people who use drugs was launched – without any opportunity to discuss it.