EHRA representatives visit

As the DPNSEE project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe funded by Open Society Foundations (OSF) through Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is about to come to an end in April this year, EHRA Financial Director Tatiana Fomicheva and Sustainability and Transition Adviser Ivan Varentsov visited DPNSEE on 17 and 18 April 2019. The purposes of the visit were to make an oversight of the project related documents and provide support with regard to the development of the final financial report.

EHRA representatives had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the national coordinator organisations MarginaJuventas and Prevent and get to know better their achievements and challenges while implementing the project. It was also interesting to discuss lessons learnt, possible next steps and follow up actions. All three indicated that the main issue they faced was lack of information or very slow response to provide them by the authorities. Understanding this obstacle, an agreement was made that DPNSEE and partner organisations will propose to extend the project by September 2019.

Our guests presented us the EHRA activities in the scope of the Global Fund HIV multi-country project, content of the workshop on human rights issues for the Balkan region planned for autumn this year and the Global Fund Community, Rights and Gender Technical Assistance Program. For this occasion, we also invited our colleagues from Serbian partner and member organisations DugaGAJPTimok Youth Centre and Čovekoljublje.

For our guests, we also arranged meetings with Dr Jasmina Tanasić, Head of the Department for Social Affairs at the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities and Primarius Dr Danijela Simić, Head of Department for HIV infection, STI, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis, Centre for Prevention and Control of Diseases, at the Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanović Batut”.

The visit will help to better document the approach, process and results of our project as well as the lessons learnt. Documenting this our joint experience as a regional best practice and example of small grants to NGOs in recently transitioned of transitioning countries to support their sustainability and transition related advocacy activities can be of benefit to the Sustainability Bridge Funding that is about to be created by a group of international donors led by the OSF.

#SoS_project launched

Alliance for Public Health, leading a regional consortium uniting Network of People living with HIV/AIDS 100% Life, Central-Asian PLH Association and Eurasian Key Populations Health Network (EKHN), manages the multi-country project ‘Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region’, funded by the Global Fund in amount up to USD 13 million. The project will be implemented throughout 2019-2021 and aims to reduce the HIV epidemic in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia and South East Europe regions through accelerating progress on Fast-Track by 2020 and to ensure the sustainability of HIV services for key populations in 14 countries of the regions: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The project launch meeting was held on 26 March 2019 in Kyiv, Ukraine. It gathered all implementing partners, regional and global stakeholders, donors active in the region to discuss the program approaches and plans, get strategies advise and coordinate with other regional initiatives to maximize impact of investment.

At the project coordination meeting on 27 March all regional consortium members, project sub-recipients, implementing and technical partners in the region to discuss and coordinate the concrete plans and timelines for project activities among the implementers.

To achieve the expected savings, the project will develop strategies for optimizing the cost of ART regimens, which will lead to a decrease in the average cost of first-line ART. Advocacy activities will also be carried out aimed at reducing prices for ARVs and using savings to finance the needs of prevention and care services for the Key Groups and PLHIV. In addition, work to optimize clinical guidelines for ART, a list of drugs in accordance with WHO guidelines is planned, as well as advocacy to include countries in voluntary licensing and registration of generic manufacturers.

Andriy Klepikov, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health, said that almost half of these funds ($ 5.6 million) will go to the advocacy of the reduction of prices for ARV drugs and optimization of procurement mechanisms.  Another quarter of the project budget ($ 3.2 million) is planned for budget advocacy. $ 1.6 million is provided for the removal of legal barriers, the same amount for project management. Another $ 1 million will go to operational research.

“The idea is not only to throw in some initiatives, but simultaneously with such interventions to launch operational research, which will help identify and prove their effectiveness,” explained Klepikov. – “It worked, in particular, in Ukraine. But we would not want other countries to take it on faith. In each country for advocacy, before the Ministry of Health will start funding, it is important to get a serious evidence base, which is collected through operational research”.

DPNSEE member organisations Cazas and Timok Youth Centre will be sub-recipients of the project in Montenegro and Serbia, while HOPS is involved in project implementation in North Macedonia.

Nova stranka first to sign “Declaration on Sustainable National Response to HIV”

Nova stranka  is the first political party in Serbia which signed the Declaration for sustainable national response to HIV, proposed by the Group for Analysis of Public Policies (GAJP) as part of their project Political support to the harm reduction programmes. Aim of this project is to invite all political parties in Serbia to sign the Declaration that will oblige them to support harm reduction programmes and their financing from budgetary sources in their future work and participation in legislative and executive bodies.

The President of the Council of the Nova stranka, Aris Movsesian said that it is normal for the Nova stranka, as well as all other political parties, to sign this declaration.  Nova stranka is committed to joining the European Union, and the last year’s European Commission report calls for regulating the treatment of HIV patients, specifically in Chapter 28 where such measures are proposed. Nova stranka also emphasises in point 8 of their Action Plan the problem of relations with vulnerable groups of citizens.

Movsesian invited other political parties to follow our example and make such a civilization step.”

The declaration is developed in scope of the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in South East Europe project. The project is managed by DPNSEE, and coordinated in Serbia by the Association Prevent.

To read the news from the signing of the declaration in Serbian follow this link>>>.

Serbia completed project application to the Global Fund

The National Committee for fighting HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, which performs the role of the Country Coordinating Mechanism in Serbia, adopted today the documents which will be submitted to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The project is expected to run from July 2019 to June 2022.

Back in 2016, the Global Fund allocated €1,098,351 for HIV and building resilient and sustainable systems for health. The allocation have been determined primarily based on disease burden and income level. Serbia is classified as an upper-middle-income country. Serbia committed to encourage additional domestic investment of 25%. The first amount agreed during the application in already included in the national budget for 2019.

The project seeks to scale-up HIV testing services for all key affected populations (KPs), preventive programs for men who have sex with men and sex workers and needles and syringes program (NSP) and other preventive programs for people who inject drugs. In addition, the project seeks to maintain and extend support provided by organizations of people living with HIV to people on antiretroviral treatment. The project will fund services provided by civil society organisations and will contribute to community system strengthening. In order to reach the maximum impact the majority of prevention and support interventions will be implemented at least in the two regions (Belgrade and Vojvodina) in which majority of KPs are concentrated based on surveillance data..

The civil society organisations, including DPNSEE and our three member organisations from Serbia Prevent, Duga and Timok Youth Centre, actively participated in creating the new national HIV strategy, in the work of the National Committee and the Working group for negotiations with the Global Fund.

Meeting of the Working group for negotiations with the representatives of the Global Fund

Project partners meeting

The meeting of the partners in the EU Funded project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South Eastern Europe” was held in Belgrade, Serbia, on Monday, 10 December 2018. This was the last meeting of the project which lasted for 4 years, supported by the European Commission DG Near.

The partners approved the minutes from the recent meeting, held on 12 September by Skype, and partners informed about the recent activities.

Margina has finished with the activities of the programme. Prevent has yet to implement a press conference, most probably in Belgrade by the end of the year. Diogenis has finished with the activities of the programme, except from the last newsletter. Olga Pateraki informed the partners of the reallocation regarding the budget of Diogenis, in order to translate in Greek and print the booklet “Drug Policy reform, The UNGASS 2016 a catalyst for change”.

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milosevic informed the partners about the activities that has been implemented during this period: the country visits in Romania and in Greece, the General Assembly that took place in Belgrade, the capacity building that was held during September, the Resource Centre and the Glossary. The Glossary has been printed and there is in English, Spanish and Serbo-Croatian, with the intention to be translated also in other languages. The discrimination paper has been started but not reached yet the desired recorded cases.

The partners have agreed to send all their final financial reports by the 10th of January to Diogenis in order to prepare the final financial report, who is collecting and preparing the reports. The financial report will be also in a format of detailed breakdown that the EC asks along with the final report. The reports of the activities will be also sent to Diogenis in order to compile them for the final report in January.

The need for an organized system for drug policy in Montenegro

Within the framework of the project ARYSE (At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment), funded by the European Union through the European Commission, NGO Juventas organised the round table „Young people who use drugs in Montenegro“ on 12 November 2018 in Podgorica. The hosts emphasised that there is no systematic commitment in solving the problem of dependence on psychoactive substances in Montenegro and that clarifying the government responsibility is very important. Improving support programs, developing preventive work, in order to help young people who use drugs, must be in coordination with many institutions.

The speakers at the round table were: Marija Milić, Coordinator of the Programme of direct assistance for people who use drugs, NVO Juventas, Milutin Milošević, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe, Ivana Vujović, Executive Director of NGO Juventas, Nebojša Kavarić, Director of the Health Centre in Podgorica, Dr Ljiljana Golubović, the Public Health Institute representative and psychologist, Dijana Milošević, representative of the Institution for Resocialization and Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts Kakaricka gora.

The representatives of local communities from Nikšić, Podgorica, Budva, Bijelo polje, Tivat and Kolašin also took part in the discussion.

It was pointed out that cooperation with official institutions is at an unsatisfactory level. Also, the discussion conclude that there is no systematic plan for dependence on psychoactive substances problem.

The Executive Director of DPNSEE Milutin Milošević gave introductory presentation about models and standards of prevention of psychoactive substances use in Europe and presented concrete examples of drug policy approaches in Croatia, Spain, The Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden and Turkey.

ARYSE project also includes the partner organizations: ARSIS (Albania), Association Margina (Bosnia Herzegovina), HOPS (Macedonia), Labirint (Kosovo), Prevent (Serbia) and Foundation SHL (Germany).
At-Risk Youth Social Emprovement open table

The first national training held for organisations in Bosnia Herzegovina

Just after the Training for national consultancy teams, Grand hotel in Sarajevo hosted the Training for civil society organisations in Bosnia Herzegovina from 5 to 7 September 2018. This was the first of three national trainings for civil society organisations as part of the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe project.

The training included general information and practical steps in the advocacy process: identifying the issue and causes of the problem, research and budget analysis, stakeholders and advocacy targets, influencing budgets at national and municipal levels, mapping budget information and documents, planning, taking actions, monitoring, anti-corruption, reviewing, evaluation and learning.

Participants came from organisations working in both entities of the country – The Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina and Republic of Srpska: Margina from Tuzla and Zenica, Viktorija from Banja Luka, Proi, Partnership for Health and Asocijacija XY from Sarajevo.

The training was delivered by Darko Antikj from ESE and Vlatko Dekov from HOPS who have developed the model and successfully implemented it in Macedonia.

The training resulted in producing a national plan of action to be implemented by the end of 2019. It includes creating a platform of NGOs for sustainability of harm reduction services, ensuring political support, creation of a budget line in the health budget of the entities of the country, establishing a social contracting mechanism and agreeing on criteria and standards for the services.

Training for national consultancy teams

The training for national consultancy teams was organised from 3 to 5 September 2018 in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina. It was the first in a serial of training opportunities offered by the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe project.

The aim of the training was to gain mutual understanding of the project, the budget advocacy and monitoring model and role of the consultancy teams in implementing the national plans of actions. 15 participants came from the three involved countries.

The training will be delivered by Darko Antikj from ESE and Vlatko Dekov from HOPS who have developed the model and successfully implemented it in Macedonia.

The agenda included issues of:

  • Introduction to Budget cycle on national and local level
  • Budget research and analysis
  • Stakeholders and advocacy models
  • Planning and implementation of the budget advocacy process and
  • Country group work on national budget advocacy plan

The training have helped to clarify various issues related to the topic and the way the project will be implemented and agree on basis for designing the national plans. Also, it was specific team building exercise for the national consultancy teams.

Project Planning Meeting

The Project Planning Meeting of the Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe project, supported by the Open Society Foundations and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, was held on Friday 3 August 2018 in the DPNSEE Office in Belgrade. The aim of the meeting is to gain mutual understanding and full ownership of the project and operationalize the plan of actions.

Organisation of training, national in all three participating countries Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and regional was most discussed. Profile and recruitment of consultancy teams, preparing national programs of actions and management of the budget were at the table too.

Dates and venues for the trainings are as follows:

  • The regional training for all three national Consultancy teams will be held from 3 to 5 September in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina
  • The training in Bosnia Herzegovina will be held from 5 to 7 September in Sarajevo
  • The training in Serbia will be held from 24 to 28 September
  • The training in Montenegro will be held from 1 to 5 October in Podgorica

The Global Fund awarded only one HIV multi-country project

In December 2017, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria called for proposals from qualified organizations to provide programming for the HIV strategic priority area “Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region” under the Multicountry catalytic funding modality for the 2017-2019 Allocation Period. Five proposals were submitted. The Global Fund announded at the AIDS 2018 Conference last week that all of them were not of excellent quality and that only one will be supported. Here is the information about which one was awarded.

New levers of change in Eastern Europe and Central Asia:
Global Fund awarded multi-country project to the Alliance led regional consortium

On July 31, 2018, the Global Fund announced its decision on the approval HIV multi-country project ‘Sustainability of services for key populations in EECA region’ submitted by consortium of regional organizations from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) – Alliance for Public Health, All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH 100% Life, Central Asian PLWHA Association and Eurasian Key Populations Health Network (EKHN), together with technical partners and TB People. The proposal incorporated contributions from Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

The Global Fund informed that the application from Alliance-led regional consortium was approved in full amount with the total budget over $ 10.5 million for three years (2019-2021).

The main objective of this project is to ensure the sustainability of services for key populations and to substantially improve the HIV cascade in the key countries of the EECA region.

“EECA is nearly the only region globally with rising HIV infections. We have very ambitious targets: to stop this dangerous trend and to make services for key populations accessible and sustainable in our region. We are ready to cooperate and join efforts with all partners to make national funding for key populations a reality!’, – stated Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of Alliance for Public Health.

“Nine countries with high levels of HIV in the region will be able to use technologies and solutions that have already proven effective. We, as the largest patient organization, are ready to partner with our colleagues to provide access to treatment, services and resources for all key populations and patients,” – said Dmitry Sherembey, Head of Coordination Council, 100% Life.

Although the main focus of the project is HIV, the consortium of regional organizations will be working closely with the multi-country TB project which will be implemented by a consortium led by PAS Center (Moldova) in 2019-2021 with the support of the Global Fund.

This is the joint victory of national, regional and international partners and the consortium is looking forward to implementing the work together.

DPNSEE congratulates the Consortium and wishes them success in implementing the project.