Civil society statement on ensuring continuity of essential life-saving treatments for Ukrainians in European countries

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) initiated the Civil society statement on ensuring continuity of essential life-saving treatments for Ukrainians in European countries. The statement signed by 29 civil society organizations and networks, including DPNSEE.

The undersigned organisations, working with and representing the interests of communities of people living with and affected by HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and drug dependence in Central and Eastern European countries, call for the following urgent measures:

  • Organise medical data exchange with a particular focus on HIV and opioid dependence to ensure continuity of services between Ukraine and EU member states and among the EU member states;
  • As good clinical practice, ensure that previous diagnosis are accepted, people are prescribed the same regimens and take-home dosages of OAT as in Ukraine as much as possible;
  • To promote and follow the recommendations being set in the Standardized Protocol for clinical management and Medical Data-Sharing for people living with HIV among refugees from Ukraine[1] and to collaborate with WHO on the development of a similar protocol for the refugees from the Ukraine who are OAT patients
  • Support EU member states with emergency procurement and exchange of medications, as needed, to ensure methadone (tables), buprenorphine, dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy, pediatric antiretroviral medications and similar Ukraine-prevalent treatments are made available for continuation in all border and other neighbouring countries;
  • Establish a pool of translation support for clinicians and Ukrainian refugees and utilise automated translation services to overcome barriers in refugee services and clinical settings;
  • Support outreach and contacts by HIV and drug treatment experts and NGOs in refugee centres, including the sensitisation of staff and to urgently identify people in need of uninterrupted daily treatment;
  • Introduce simplified initiation of essential treatment to all Ukrainians with or without refugee status based on their passport data; and,
  • Ensure that monitoring systems and hotlines are available to clinicians and other service providers to immediately solve the health issues affecting Ukrainian refugees.

The Statement was sent to high level EU officials and authorities of France (currently holding EU Presidency), Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

To read full Statement, follow this link>>>.

 

DPNSEE annual General Assembly

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe held its regular annual General Assembly on 29 March 2022. The Assembly was again held online.

The Assembly performed regular annual duties: discussed and adopted the narrative and financial reports for 2021. The report states that 2021 was a challenging year, but that DPNSEE and our member organisations managed to operate in a solid way, although the space for our work is more and more shrinking.

DPNSEE have managed last year to reach the new horizons. We have been welcomed to the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs. Our representatives spoke on important events, our colleagues elected to other important positions. We joined Correlation, EHRA and other organisations and networks in joint advocacy to fight harm reduction crisis in our region and preparing project proposal for project submitted to the EU for Health programe.

Most of our work in 2021 was dedicated to young people. We implemented the “No risk, no borders for young people” project with our 5 member organisations. We already have a large group of engaged young people, many of whom takes important roles in their organisations and internationally. We hope that they bring a new spirit and engage their peers.

You can find more about the work of DPNSEE in 2021 in the report following this link>>>.

Unfortunately, the Assembly acknowledged that Centre for Life from Greece stopped operating so we had to take them off the list of our member organisations. On the other side, the Assembly recognised the LINK – Montenegrin Harm Reduction Network as the ordinary member organisation. The Assembly also changed the status of organisation PROI from Bosnia Herzegovina from ordinary to associate.

Members of the new Board are
Nebojša Đurasović, President, President of Prevent, Serbia
Nicoleta Dascălu, Vice-President, Advocacy manager, ARAS, Romania
Marios Atzemis, Harm reduction worker, Positive Voice, Greece and Consultant at European AIDS Treatment Group and Steering Committee member of AIDS Action Europe
Besnik Hohxa, Clinical psychologist, Aksion Plus, Albania
Berina Bahić, Project coordinator and head of regional office Tuzla, Margina, Bosnia Herzegovina
Marija Mijović, Deputy Coordinator of the Direct Assistance Program, Juventas, Montenegro
Zharin Simrin, User Activist, Coordinator and Assistant for Needle Exchange, HOPS, North Macedonia

We are assured that the combinations of experience and youth, men and women, people from communities and those supporting them and geographic spread around the region we have now in the Board will be efficient and effective in the challenging period ahead.

In the second session, the Assembly completed the strategy review process with the support of our consultant Nenad Čelarević. The new Board will consolidate the results of the process and propose Action plan to implement the strategy.

An important DPNSEE Board meeting

The DPNSEE Board held online meeting on 3 March 2002. The meeting agnda included some very important points.

The Board discussed current Network situation. With reduced funding, DPNSEE is now working in a “safe mode” with 50% staff working time and limitted expenses. We are safe in this mode for the first half of 2022 and expect that with some new projects we shall return to regular work soon.

The Board decided to organise the DPNSEE General Assembly online on Tuesday 29 March. The Assembly will have three thematic sessions: 1) Formal meeting to adopt reports and plans; 2) Elections (at least three Board members are not eligible for re-election) and 3) Strategic planning (finalising the DPNSEE Strategy).

The Board in length discussed the situation with key affected populations caused by the recent war in Ukraine. Several actions have already been taken by UN agencies, Global Fund community delegations, EHRA and various civil society organisations to ensure that provision of necessary harm reduction services and HIV prevention programs, both in Ukraine and Russia but also in countries which welcomed refugees from the two countries. The Board invites member organisations to open their services for the refugees and help them settle in the unpleasant situation. The Board will follow the situation and take necessary further steps if needed.

 

Which way to gender equality?

DPNSEE is finalising the strategy review process. As part of it, we had a very inspiring online meeting with experts from the KANA (Creative Active of New Adventures) on gender equality in drug policy on 1 March 2021. With their support, we intend to add elements to the DPNSEE Strategy that will lead us through a process of critical exploration of gender and its implications on drug use and vice versa.

We plan to finalise the Strategy on the General Assembly, expected to be scheduled for end of March/beginning of April.

Youth from Bosnia and Herzegovina Celebrate Successes of Their Projects Supported by RYCO and EU

From the RYCO news

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized a final event within its EU-supported project “Enhancing Youth Cooperation and Youth Exchange in the WB6” in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 7 February 2022. The event presented the results of projects supported within the 4th RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals. These projects provided young people in the region with networking opportunities in the field of regional youth dialogue, peacebuilding and reconciliation, and were implemented by CSOs from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

RYCO Director of Programs Mr Jan Zlatan Kulenovć addressed the participants and said that the fact that we are taking responsibility for regional cooperation and dealing with the past shows that these are important topics, worthy of investment.

Youth exchanges participant Mr Alem Bajramović emphasized that networking is the most important aspect of youth exchanges. “The youth from the region share numerous interests, and they overcome prejudices by meeting peers from other countries. This fosters special emotions and helps forming long term friendships,” he said.

The projects supported by RYCO and the EU within the 4th RYCO Open Call across the Western Balkans fostered reconciliation and regional youth cooperation, as well as strengthened the capacities of the civil society to adapt to the COVID-19 environment. They were implemented from February to October 2021.

During the application phase, 129 applications were received which brought about 400 partnerships from the region. The overall financial envelope for the Call was 333,000 Euro.

 

Final event of the RYCO Call for project in Serbia

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) the Closing event of the Call for Project Proposals 2020 “A Better Region Starts with Youth” in Serbia was held on 7 February 2022.

Four organisations from Serbia were supported by the Call. One of them was DPNSEE with the project “No risk, no borders for young people“. From Serbia, our member organisations Prevent and Re Generacija were partners in the project.

Stefan Pejić from Re Generacija participated in the panel presenting his experience from the project and how it influenced work of his organisation.

Strategy documents commented

Last two months, the strategy documents, prepared with the support of the TACSO 3 Strategic Mentoring Programme by the external expert Nenad Čelarević, were on consultations at the DPNSEE member organisations.

We shall summarise the comments and proposals to the DPNSEE Strategic Platform and DPNSEE Communication Strategy and prepare final drafts that will be offered for adoption at the DPNSEE General Assembly, planned for March 2020.

The strategy review process was suppoeted by the TACSO 3 Strategic Mentoring Programme, a part of EU TACSO 3 Capacity Development and People to People (P2P) Programme.

 

Strategy Framework document drafted

At its meeting held from 16 to 18 September 2021, the DPNSEE Board had a very interesting and fruitful session with TACSO consultant Nenad Čelarević on Strategy review. Basis for the discussion was the draft strategic framework document prepared by the Working Group on Strategy Review.

The outcome of the session is the document that will be shared with the DPNSEE member organisations for consultations and proposals. In addition, severfal ideas for the draft DPNSEE Communications Strategy were generated. The consultant will process them and prepare the draft that will also be shared with the member organisations for consultations.

 

Preparation call for CSFD members

The current Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) Core Group (which terminated their mandate) organised a preparation call for all CSFD members in the new mandate on 15 September.

During the meeting, a number of topics were discussed:

  • The rejected CSFD Proposal and the impact of this on the work of the new CSFD
  • The agenda of the first CSFD meeting scheduled for 6 – 7 October 2021
  • The working group structure of the new CSFD
  • All potential questions coming from CSFD members

The Drug Policy Network Youth East Europe have been selected as a member of the European Commission Expert Group – Civil Society Forum on Drugs 2021-2023.

Working group on Strategy review

As part of the TACSO 3 supported Strategic Mentoring Programme, a DPNSEE working group on Strategy review, comprised of young people who participated in design of the current Strategy, had a meeting with the external consultant Nenad Čelarević.

DPNSEE is supported by TACSO 3 to review the network’s Strategy and develop the Public Relations and Communication strategy.

Result of the meeting is the draft strategy document that will be discussed at the DPNSEE Board meeting and then circulated to the member organisations for consultations.