Voices of frontline workers

European harm reduction services needed to be innovative and adapt very rapidly in response to the fast-changing landscape of the pandemic and its associated national control measures. Preliminary research on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug services and PWUD has noted decreases in available harm reduction services.

Frontline harm reduction workers play a crucial role in public health response during COVID-19 and are instrumental in implementing these rapid-scale changes required to keep vital services operational.

Their experiences during the pandemic provide critical data to understanding the effect of the pandemic on the vulnerable population of PWUD and the health services they depend on.

This Correlation European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) report on the impact of COVID-19 on vital harm reduction services seeks to bring these voices of front-line workers at drug consumption rooms (DCR’s), harm reduction outreach teams and PWUD themselves to highlight their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report includes sections on:

  • General Harm Reduction Response to COVID-19
  • Drug Consumption Rooms
  • Outreach services
  • Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST)
  • Government & municipality response
  • Drug Supply
  • Digital and other Innovations
  • User experiences in the streets
  • Homelessness
  • Social Isolation for PWUD

Our member organisations from Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece contributed to the report with their experience.

The briefing paper is available following this link>>>.

 

European Harm Reduction Sessions

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network we held a day-long webinar of four major sessions in lieu of the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference which is recently postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the links to all the session recordings

What can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 and the impact on harm reduction in Europe

Watch here>>>

 

 

 


Special edition launch of the Harm Reduction Journal

Watch here>>>

 

 

 


Different approaches for decriminalisation – what works?

Watch here>>>

 

 

 


Engaging with policymakers and the public to promote ethical drug policy

Watch here>>>

The full length of the film “Putting UK Drug Policy into Focus” is available here>>>.

 

 

 

The next Harm Reduction Session Challenges and opportunities to monitor new drug trends by civil society organisations (CSOs) will be held on 16 December, 15:00 – 16:30 CET,

Registrations are now open. Find out more and register following this link>>>.

 

Special issue on the state of harm reduction in Europe

In collaboration with Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the Harm Reduction Journal is planning a special thematic series on the state of harm reduction in Europe, to be launched at the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference in Prague, 4-6 November 2020.

Partners are seeking submission especially of articles reporting on contemporary research findings, but also commentaries on aspects of harm reduction policy and programming – anywhere regionally or locally in broader Europe, and on any issue to which the harm reduction approach is relevant.

Please see the Call for Papers in this link: https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/HR-Europe2020 and please pass this Call on to your colleagues and networks who may be interested in submitting an article for consideration for publication.

A day for side events

While plenary session was open for governmental speeches and the Committee of Whole worked on texts of resolutions, the second day of the CND 2020 was for civil society organisations mainly dedicated to side events.

Side events

Young people use drugs – Bridging the gap between Human Rights and Key Affected Populations

Organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy

International guidelines on human rights and drug policy, produced by UNODC, have a just a few paragraphs on children who have right to protection from drugs and women who use drugs which human rights should be protected, but don’t have reference on young people who use drugs.

The Barcelona declaration (which “declares that the War On Drugs is a war on Womxn Who Use Drugs”), Par4digma coalition of youth lead organisations from across the world transforming drug policy and Youth and Incarceration/Forced Treatment (rehabilitation) in Nigeria, where this method is employed to patients that are treated as “harmful”, were presented. Presenters also called that the sanctions against drug use should be based on the economic situation of the user.

Improving outreach and multidisciplinary approach towards people who use drugs and people in recovery in Western Balkan countries

Organized by Serbia, and Association Izlazak, Preporod/Rebirth, Proslavi Oporavak/Celebrate Recovery and World Federation Against Drugs

Results of the regional project “Choose Recovery” which is a joint cooperation between World Federation Against Drugs and three civil society organisations in the Balkan region: Izlazak, Celebrate Recovery and Preporod, were presented. The three organisation are working within the recovery field and providing support services to active users, individuals in recovery and members of their families, and they are actively involved in shaping drug policies in their countries.

Also, The Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia presented their work, emphasizing partnership with the civil society as one of the successes of their work.

Comprehensive and evidence-based approach in tackling the world drug problem

Organized by Croatia, and European Union and UNODC Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs

The slogan of the Croatian presidency “A strong Europe in a challenging world”

Croatian strongly recommends implementation of all universal conventions dealing with drugs.

After protocolled introductions from the Ambassador of Croatia and Executive Director of UNODC, State secretary in the Ministry of Health Tomislav Dulibić presented Croatian experiences in evidence-based approach to drug problem. He emphasized that Croatia introduced Minimum standards for prevention of addiction in the educational system, implemented a research project “Evaluation of drug treatment in the Republic of Croatia” and performed evaluation of treatment and distribution of substitution therapy.

Alexis Goosdeel underlined that EMCDDA cooperates with Croatia since 2002. They are an excellent experience of serious and comprehensive approach towards accession to EU in the area of drugs. EMCDDA collects data for a purpose, not for statistics.

Victor Sannes, deputy director in the Food, Health Protection and Prevention Directorate presented various projects from The Netherlands.

Gilberto Gerra, UNODC: 60% of countries of the World have health treatment of drug users under ministries of interior or justice!

Homelessness and substance use in city centres: Balanced and evidence-based policies

Organized by Greece, and Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Pompidou Group/Council of Europe and Santé Mentale et Exclusion Sociale – Europe

Dr Christos Koumitsidis, National Drug Coordinator, Greece: Homelessness in downtown Athens is an important challenge, exacerbated by factors such mental health conditions, substance use problems, the financial crisis and the influx of refugees fleeing war. These issues do not exist in isolation, they intersect and potentiate vulnerability. Homelessness is a common ground.

Katrin Prins-Schiffer, Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network / De Regenboog Groep: We see the same in the harm reduction and addiction sectors; usually homelessness is left behind. Only Finland has decreased homelessness. They have invested a lot in Housing First. All other countries report increases in homelessness. Part of the problem is that the housing market is under a lot of pressure, mostly because of a lack of affordable housing. We have 150,000 rent-controlled dwellings in Amsterdam; but this is not a lot for a city of 1.2 million; and it’s really hard to access these dwellings. In terms of reasons for homelessness, the majority are about impending evictions or end of renting contract, and leaving home after. There is an ‘integrated care system’ whereby local governments are responsible for housing and homeless care. In terms of the system’s main principles, it’s about focusing on the overall needs; not just drug use, homelessness or mental health. It’s a kind of self-sufficiency matrix including finances, housing, relationships, legal problems, community participation. This system is based on the needs on the individual, not on the organisation and its specific focus.

Victor Soto, SMES Europe: Why are people homeless? Policies (housing policies, health policies) and individual situations (mental conditions, traumatic events, etc.). So we need to address both dimensions. Homelessness is not a fixed category, it should be approach through different lines of action.

Pompidou Group: As the operational context was been changing, stakeholders in this field need to be flexible, in line with operational realities. Common guiding principles need to be developed and revised as practice develops. To develop these principles, we need to learn from each other: what works and what doesn’t, find common ground for cooperation and support.

Homelessness and substance use in city centres: Balanced and evidence-based policies

Organized by Greece, and Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Pompidou Group/Council of Europe and Santé Mentale et Exclusion Sociale – Europe

Dr Christos Koumitsidis, National Drug Coordinator, Greece: Homelessness in downtown Athens is an important challenge, exacerbated by factors such mental health conditions, substance use problems, the financial crisis and the influx of refugees fleeing war. These issues do not exist in isolation, they intersect and potentiate vulnerability. Homelessness is a common ground.

Katrin Prins-Schiffer, Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network / De Regenboog Groep: We see the same in the harm reduction and addiction sectors; usually homelessness is left behind. Only Finland has decreased homelessness. They have invested a lot in Housing First. All other countries report increases in homelessness. Part of the problem is that the housing market is under a lot of pressure, mostly because of a lack of affordable housing. We have 150,000 rent-controlled dwellings in Amsterdam; but this is not a lot for a city of 1.2 million; and it’s really hard to access these dwellings. In terms of reasons for homelessness, the majority are about impending evictions or end of renting contract, and leaving home after. There is an ‘integrated care system’ whereby local governments are responsible for housing and homeless care. In terms of the system’s main principles, it’s about focusing on the overall needs; not just drug use, homelessness or mental health. It’s a kind of self-sufficiency matrix including finances, housing, relationships, legal problems, community participation. This system is based on the needs on the individual, not on the organisation and its specific focus.

Victor Soto, SMES Europe: Why are people homeless? Policies (housing policies, health policies) and individual situations (mental conditions, traumatic events, etc.). So we need to address both dimensions. Homelessness is not a fixed category, it should be approach through different lines of action.

Pompidou Group: As the operational context was been changing, stakeholders in this field need to be flexible, in line with operational realities. Common guiding principles need to be developed and revised as practice develops. To develop these principles, we need to learn from each other: what works and what doesn’t, find common ground for cooperation and support.

Harm Reduction @Work

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network announced that the Fifth European Harm Reduction Conference will be held from 4 to 6 November 2020 in Prague, Czechia.

The Conference Motto is

Harm Reduction @Work

innovation, community & political leadership

The Conference will be organised by the Correlation European Harm Reduction Network in close cooperation with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Czech organization Sananim. DPNSEE supports and endorses the Conference.

The 5th European Harm Reduction Conference targets professionals from the community working in the broader area of harm reduction, policy-makers and politicians, researchers, and media representatives. Registrations are already open.

The conference will present the latest harm reduction developments and good innovative practices. It will discuss drug policy and its implications on people who use drugs and other groups, including not only sex workers but also people living with HIV.

The meeting intends to broaden the view on harm reduction while addressing related issues such as social inclusion and homelessness. Finally, the conference provides an appropriate platform to create links and synergies between national and European stakeholders.

The conference programme is currently under development. The European Network of People Who Use Drugs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, the European Monitoring Centre Drugs and Drug Addiction and other vital stakeholders from Europe are joining us in this effort.

Follow all developments about the Conference following this link>>>

First Civil Society Monitoring Report

Taken from the Correlation website

The Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) published the first monitoring report covering certain areas of drug policy and practice. The purpose of this report is to enrich the information and knowledge base of harm reduction interventions in Europe from the viewpoint of civil society organisations, meaning organisations that directly work for, and with, people who use drugs. Correlation believe that this approach is a necessary, and useful, contribution to the development of drug policy in the region.

Correlation plan to repeat this reporting on an annual basis to identify developments and changes over time. A lot is being learned in this first pilot phase and adaptations to the focus and questions will be made, accordingly, as well as a recognition of certain limitations with regards to coverage and validation which we cannot easily overcome. Consequently, the information provided in this report is sometimes anecdotal and represents the situation in a particular city or region and informs us as to the experiences of a specific organisation in the field. Such ‘real life’ information can contribute significantly to an understanding of the advantages, barriers and challenges of drug policy.

Correlation will use the insights and information collected in this report within their advocate efforts to strengthen harm reduction policies in Europe and, hopefully, their partners and contributors will do the same in their environment at a regional and national level.

More than one hundred organisations and individuals from 35 European countries have contributed to the collection of data with an amazingly high response rate. All contributors deserve tanks for their great work and commitment. Without their engagement, this work would never have been undertaken at all.

To read the report, follow this link>>>

 

Correlation Focal points and expert group meeting

The Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network held its Focal point and expert group meeting from 2 to 4 October 2019 in Helsinki. The meeting gathered 60 participants from 31 countries and territories. Among them, DPNSEE network members are focal points for Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria (not present at the meeting), Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia.

The agenda included a wide range of interesting issues including New projects on European level, Results of the first round of monitoring harm reduction, Challenges in Harm Reduction and also Correlation state of affairs and Methadone shortage in Romania. Complementing this agenda, participants were given the opportunity to join a series of workshops on Advocacy, Peer Involvement and Intervention Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Building upon this pool of expertise, the event offered the possibility to present developments in the different EU countries in regard to drug policy and harm reduction and to disseminate relevant work and activities.

Since the launch of the monitoring tool for harm reduction organizations, Correlation Focal Points have been working on collecting the required data and information. The tool had more than 100 questions and 35 countries from Europe participated. Some results are strange. For instance, the only 3 countries in Europe which expressed civil society’s good cooperation with governments were Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina and Romania! During the meeting, participants shared their experiences and provided feedback on the tool and the process.

Ms Dagmar Hedrich, Head of the Health consequences and responses sector, Lead scientist for harm reduction at EMCDDA, presented the data collected by the agency. DPNSEE Vice President and Executive Director asked what can we do with outdated data coming from some EMCDDA focal points and how could they include data from candidate and non-EU countries? The reply we got was that EMCDDA’s institutional obligation is to report on 28 EU countries and 2 who pay for their services (Norway and Turkey) and that budget cuts and no funds prevent them to cover more. An interesting view Ms Hedrich proposed is that the civil society organisations can perform social autopsy of overdose deaths of people who were using their services. The implementation researches are one of important potentials of CSOs – qualitative information they can provide. A good model they use is that EMCDDA prepares short reports with key messages, tailored for policy makers, followed by webpages or web based portals which give a full information.

The presentation from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) was focused on monitoring in general and on Hepatitis in particular. It emphasized that there is a big problem with low number of those diagnosed for HEP, huge numbers in prisons and lack of accurate data.

On Friday 4, the seminar Wellbeing economy – A way to sustainability in the HIV and AIDS response? was held as an official side event during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in cooperation with HIV Finland.

The 4th European Harm Reduction Conference in Bucharest

The 4th European Harm Reduction Conference, called for 21 to 23 November 2018 in Bucharest, Romania is organised by the Correlation Network in cooperation with Romanian partners and different European Networks and partners, such as Infodrug Switzerland, the European Network of People Who Use Drugs, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the European Joint Action HA-REACT.

The conference will present the latest harm reduction research results, innovative and next best-thing practices, discuss drug policy including the need to scale up harm reduction services and provide an appropriate platform to create a link between national and European developments in drug policies and harm reduction.

The European Harm Reduction Conference is aimed at professionals that work in the areas of harm reduction, treatment, prevention, medicine, research, law enforcement and politics and, finally but importantly, drug user and community organisations.

With the support from the Open Society Foundations, the Drug Policy Network South East Europe will coordinate participation of South East Europe in the 4th European Harm Reduction Conference. Specific objectives of this project include:

 

  • Improve and extend partnerships in South East Europe
  • Provide organizational and logistic support to SEE representatives at the Conference
  • Organize a SEE side-event before EuroHRC
  • Support linking of the SEE participants with various networks, EU agencies etc.
  • Envisage and agree on models of long term co-operation in the region

The pre-conference South East Europe meeting will be held on 20 November. Aim of the event is to get together, exchange experiences and promising ideas for the future, meet with international partners and discuss future opportunities for collaboration. So far, 36 representatives of harm reduction organisations and institutions from all countries of the region and from various international organisations applied for the event.

More about the Conference is available at the website following this link>>>