A new daily centre

Our member organisation Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPS) from North Macedonia opened the new Daily Centre for Rehabilitation and Resocialization of Drug Users and Their Families. The centre is located at a new location – 16 Kosta Kirkov Street in the city centre of the capitol Skopje.

The working hours of the centre are from 10 to 15 h. The centre continues to provide services: psychiatrist, psychologist and pedagogue. Depending on the needs of clients, all other services of the organization are also available – support from a social worker, lawyer, etc.

In partnership and with financial support from the City of Skopje, Department of Social, Child and Health Protection, HOPS, opened the Daily Centre back in September 2012.

 

Global Drug Policy Index

The Harm Reduction Consortium, which includes the following partners: the European Network of People Who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD), the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs (ENPUD), the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) / Swansea University, Harm Reduction International (HRI), the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA), the West African Drug Policy Network (WADPN), the Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN), and Youth RISE, just published the Global Drug Policy Index – a unique tool that documents, measures and compares national drug policies.

The Index provides each country with a score and ranking that shows how much their drug policies and their implementation align with the UN principles of human rights, health and development. It offers an essential accountability and evaluation mechanism in the field of drug policy.

The Index is composed of 75 indicators running across 5 broad dimensions of drug policy: the absence of extreme responses, the proportionality of the criminal justice response, health and harm reduction, access to controlled medicines and development. Each country is then given a total score ranging from 0 to 100.

From the region of South East Europe, only North Macedonia is analysed in the 2021 issue of the Index. It took position 7 of 30 countries with overall index of 55/100:

  • Absence of extreme responses: 74/100
  • Proportionality & criminal justice: 38/100
  • Harm reduction: 46/100
  • Access to medicines: 61/100
  • Development: Not available

To read the Global Drug Policy Index, follow this link>>>.

 

International Conference on Drug Regulation Models

Our colleagues from the Healthy Project Options Skopje (HOPS) and Coalition Margins are organizing International Conference on Drug Regulation Models. The Conference will be organized on 18th and 19th November 2020, online, in form of panel discussions and expert presentations.

The conference is organized as part of the project “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities“, supported by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia.

This interesting event is going to present the new Comparative analysis of the drug regulation models in Netherlands and Portugal. It will have foreign experts presentations such us: João Castel-Branco Goulão, General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD), Director, Portugal; Tomas Zabransky, M.D., Ph.D., University professor, Czech Republic; Hans Abma, senior policy adviser, International Criminal Cooperation, Ministry of Justice, Netherlands; Thomas Zosel, Chief Inspector of Crime, Drug and Traffic prevention (E4), Police Headquarters Frankfurt am Main. Additionally, the Conference will engage domestic representatives from different institutions (police, judiciary, CSO’s, ministries, politicians, health institutions, community members) in discussion what can be done next in North Macedonia in the area concerned and give the topic an importance in the country.

In order to join the Conference, you have to register on the following link. Deadline for registration to the Conference is 16 November 2020 at 17.00 CET.

The Invitation with the agenda of the Conference is available following this link>>>. We hope you shall join and contribute. Please, don’t hesitate to share the information to your colleagues and partners.

 

North Macedonia readopted the Anti-Discrimination Law

North Macedonia’s parliament adopted the Anti-Discrimination Law, which among other things guarantees protection from gender-based discrimination.

The previous governments led by the conservative right-wing VMRO DPMNE from 2006 to 2017 refused to include sexual orientation in the law. It was then originally passed by the Social Democrat-led majority in 2019. However, the Constitutional Court struck down the law in May this year, to the dismay of LGBT organisations and human rights groups, ruling that it was not passed with a proper quorum in parliament. The Law now passed in parliament with 69 out of 120 members of the parliament supporting it, from both ruling and opposition parties. No MPs voted against it.

Prior to the vote in parliament, the Network Against Discrimination, which comprises many prominent North Macedonian NGOs, criticised the government’s recent decision to dismiss its proposal to add stricter rules for a more transparent and inclusive procedure to elect members of the Anti-Discrimination Commission, which the government said is already part of the law.

Workshop on preparation of a new National Drug Strategy 2021 – 2025

HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje, within the regional project Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (#SoS_project) supported by the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, facilitates the workshop of the multi-sectorial working group on preparations of the National Drug Strategy 2021 – 2025 and the Action Plan 2021 – 2023.

The multi-sectorial working group was established by the Minister of Health. It consists of representatives from all relevant ministries, state institutions and civil society organizations. The workshop is being held in Ohrid from 14 to 18 September 2020.

The purpose of this workshop is to prepare the new National Drug Strategy 2021 – 2025, which by the end of the year should be adopted by the Government of the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

HOPS – Options for healthy living Skopje and services during COVID-19

Taken from the HOPS website

After the announcement of the corona virus pandemic, harm reduction services were modified but all clients were covered.

Drop-in centres for harm reduction of HOPS are closed, but each service has a special phone number and contact person that meets the needs of users. They can also contact the services through all social media (Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , Website) where all the news related to harm reduction from the coronavirus and all the new recommendations for protection of the population from and the World Health Organisation the Government are continuously published.

Mobile field teams operate every day, where users with pre-made contact are visited in front of their homes. The team is formed in dependence on the need of the clients (therapeutic and social worker, therapeutic and medical worker, therapeutic and lawyer). In accordance with the recommendation of the Government, there may be a maximum of two people in one vehicle. Field teams distribute sterile utensils (needles, syringes, distilled water, condoms and lubricants) daily and inform customers about all news related to the coronavirus and instructions and advice on protecting public health (such as the recommendations from INPUD).

HOPS team at work even in surprisingly bad weather conditions

HOPS, in cooperation with other humanitarian organizations, is also planning humanitarian actions in order to provide food and hygiene packages for the most vulnerable populations. Once a week, the medical person (doctor) must be part of the field team in order to assess the general health of the population and to react in a timely manner if necessary.

Substitution therapy centres carry out their activities smoothly and clients regularly receive their therapy. The staff employed at the methadone centres has increased the level of protective measures. They don’t allow more patients to be gathered (therapy is raised one by one) and fully follow the recommendations for protective equipment from the government of Northern Macedonia and the WHO.

For now, our team is working bravely, without obstacles and is dedicated to support all those in need. We thank them for their empathy and sacrifice during these strange times.

 

Edit (6 April)

The Foundation for Open Society Macedonia, in cooperation with the Macedonian Red Cross, donated 100.000 USD for humanitarian support including food and hygienic packages for Roma population. It will be distributed to 2.000 families with around 10.000 people in 9 cities and villages across the country. Our member organisation HOPS will be among 6 civil society organisations that will organise the delivery.
More (in Macedonian) is available following this link>>>.

 

Global Fund 2020 Eligibility List

The Global Fund have just published their 2020 Eligibility List and the updated Projected Transitions List. Some of the changes are related to South East European countries.

Since Bulgaria and Romania are not on the OECD DAC list of ODA recipients, they may be eligible for an allocation for HIV for non-governmental or civil society organizations under Paragraph 9b of the Eligibility Policy only if they have demonstrated barriers to providing funding for interventions for key populations, as supported by the country’s epidemiology. As 2020 is an allocation year, the Secretariat has conducted an assessment and has determined that Bulgaria and Romania don’t meet the requirements under Paragraph 9b of the Eligibility Policy. Therefore, they have been determined not to be eligible for an HIV allocation for the 2020-2022 allocation period.

Kosovo* was classified as an Upper-Middle Income country in the 2019 Eligibility List based on the latest three-year average of GNI per capita data (Atlas method). As a result, the HIV and TB components may be eligible for an allocation of Transition Funding in the 2020-2022 allocation period.

North Macedonia‘s HIV component is now classified as eligible in the 2020 Eligibility List after meeting eligibility criteria for two consecutive eligibility determinations, noting that eligibility does not guarantee an allocation.

Montenegro and Serbia remain eligible for HIV and Romania for Tuberculosis.

 

The 2020 Eligibility List is now available on the Global Fund’s website>>>

The projected transitions list is available following this link>>>

 

Training for the State commission for combating drugs

HOPS – Healthy Options Skopje, on 7 and 8 October 2019 organized an educational workshop on capacity building for the members of the Inter-ministerial state committee for combating illicit production, trade and drug abuse in the Republic of North Macedonia.

This educational workshop was organized as part of the regional project “Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” supported by the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The activities in the country are implemented by three partner organizations: Stronger together, HERA and HOPS.

The purpose of this workshop was to update the members of the Committee on harm reduction programs, as well as to initiate a coordination process for the preparation of the new national drug strategy which should be developed by end of 2020.

The lecturers of the workshop were: Vlatko Dekov, Advocacy manager and harm reduction expert at HOPS, Lidija Savić, Pharmacist and Chair of the Inter-ministerial committee on drugs, Heidi Sterjova Simonović, project coordinator and Dr Darko Kostovski, Psychiatrist specializing in the field of drug addiction treatment.

SOS project coordination meeting

On October 2 – 3, the coordination meeting of the multi-country #sos_project, managed implemented by the consortium led by the Alliance for Public Health was held in Skopje, North Macedonia. The project team met with colleagues from the Balkan region to discuss budget advocacy issues, further interaction and strengthening of cooperation between EECA and the Balkans.

The priority areas of the cooperation are:

  • Implementation of WHO protocols with the inclusion of assisted and self-tested HIV testing.
  • ART price optimization.
  • Development of regulatory changes to improve the quality of HIV services.
  • Popularization of PrEP in the region of Southeast Europe.

DPNSEE President Vlatko Dekov and Board member Denis Dedajić presented our work on budget advocacy and monitoring in countries of South East Europe, supported by the European Harm Reduction Association and Open Society Foundations.

DPNSEE Board meeting

The Drug Policy Network in South East Europe Board held a regular board meeting in Skopje from 28 to 28 September 2019. All 7 Board members and Executive Director participated.

Significant part of the meeting was dedicated to developing DPNSEE strategic plan. Using the results of the Strategic workshop held in May, the Board worked on the text of a stagey document which will be shared with the member organisations for consultations, to be completed at the General Assembly.

The Board discussed activities held in between the two meetings and projects which are being implemented or planned for the future.

The tentative days for the annual General Assembly are 16 to 18 December 2019. The Assembly will be held in Belgrade.

The Board proposes that all member organisations should re-affirm their acceptance of the DPNSEE Mission and Vision and formally sign it.

The Board discussed and adopted the proposed DPNSEE Travel and Expense Policy and Website privacy policy.

The Board was informed about critical situations of harm reduction services in Bulgaria and Bosnia Herzegovina and discussed potential ways to help member organisations.