New challenges for public health in the 21st century

In an article for the Open Access Government, a digital publication that provides an in-depth perspective on key public policy areas from all around the world, Dineke Zeegers Paget, Executive Director of the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) presented her views on the new challenges for public health in the 21st century.

She focused on five challenges for public health in the coming decades

  1. Changing demographics in Europe
  2. Technological and digital revolution
  3. Political influence on public health
  4. Influence of vested interests
  5. New ethical issues of the 21st century

To overcome all the challenges, old and new, Dineke thinks that we need to:

  • Be deliberately collaborative by forging broad alliances in and outside the field of public health to get our message across;
  • Be open-minded to engage with partners, including politicians, to jointly come to solutions that have a broad support base;
  • Tell compelling narratives, which address the concerns that people have in a way that people understand; and
  • Be transparent and open about potential uncertainties surrounding the evidence-base.

To read this interesting article, follow this link>>>

62nd CND Session – Day 2

The second day of the 62th CND was full of side events and sharing with participants.

An overviews of the side events we participated in today includes:

Psychoactive substances and the Sustainable Development Goals – Towards a comprehensive approach in the era of the 2030 Agenda

Organized by the Government of Slovenia, Utrip Institute for Research and Development, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe and IOGT International. Jože Hren started his presentation reminding that for 20 years already the approach in Slovenia is that drug use is primarily a health problem and that possession of small quantities is a misdemeanour also since 1999. Those who are caught in possession of drugs get a fine of 40 Euro, but there is a process to change it to an oral warning or referral to treatment in more complex situations. Representative of the Pompidou Group spoke about the bi-annual prize the Group awards to innovative prevention programmes created by young people for young people. Another Slovenian representative presented their work emphasizing the need to invest in mental health programmes for adolescents. Cost of mental health disorders in Europe take 3 to 5 percent of GDP. There is a need for a reallocation of resources for more sustainable and impactful outcomes in tackling harmful substances and behaviours. Medical help is not enough – it has to be combined with comprehensive and long lasting prevention. They have a programme called “This is me”, which is in line with the Goal 3 of the SDGs. Kristina Sperkova, president of the IOGT International (international network of Templar organisations) works on prevention of alcohol and other drugs harm world-wide. Sanela from Utrip Institute advocated for a community approach to prevention. Notes from the side event are available at the CND Blog following this address>>>.

Leaving no one behind: People at the centre of a harm reduction, human rights and public health approach to drug use

Organized by the Netherlands and Norway, UNODC, UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO, IDPC, AFEW International, Harm Reduction International, INPUD, Open Society Foundations, Aidsfonds and Frontline AIDS. Ann Fordham from IDPC highlighted that the new UNADIS report indicates that 99% of people who use drugs doesn’t have a proper access to health services. WHO representative reminded that half a million people worldwide die of drug related deaths, mainly overdose and blood borne diseases HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. People also suffer because they can’t access the medicines they need. The Netherlands has “put people first” in their approach to harm reduction. The right to health is fundamental to all people irrespective of whether they are using drugs. Drug policies should seek to reduce violence, promote the rule of law, support the most marginalized and vulnerable, lift up human rights. Prohibition and criminalization means a continuation of armed conflict supported by disproportionate spending. Naomi Burke-Shyne from HRI reminded that funding for harm reduction has flat lined from 2007 to 2016, which stands in shocking contrast to the estimated funding need by UNAIDS: existing funding represents only 13% of this estimated need. Judy Chang from INPUD stated that “Existing drug policies threaten security, democracy and the well-being of all, especially those most marginalized and vulnerable. The war on drugs and drug-free agenda undermines the SDG agenda.” Zaved Mahmood from ‎UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that People who use drugs are not just left behind, they are kept out. The right to life includes the obligation to take measures where peoples’ lives might be threatened, including in relation to the use of drugs and HIV and hepatitis.

Drug prevention approaches that make a difference

Organized by the Governments of Iceland and Serbia, and the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe. Serbian representative to the OSC made an introduction speech. The same like the Minister of Health on Thursday 14 at the Ministerial Segment, he said that the Drug Strategy has 5 chapters instead of 7, avoiding to say that Harm Reduction is one of them. Jelena Janković from the Ministry of Health presented the latest developments, including information about overdose deaths in 2018 and creation of the Ministerial Commission (for fighting narcomania in schools). She also presented the project the Ministry did with experiences and support from Israel. Iceland presented their project with are seen as the flagship project on prevention. Almost 2% of the alcohol and tobacco taxes go to prevention programmes! They see as the main risks and protective factors family factors, peer group effect, general well-being and extra-curricular activities and sports. Their learning is that the multidisciplinary collaboration is the key to success. The change thy achieved is different attitude of parents and society – don’t buy alcohol for children. It is not OK for adolescents to be drunk in public. It is not the amount of time that parents spend with their children – it is the quality of time. There are no unsupervised parties. Pompidou Group emphasised the role of police in prevention. Interventions from the floor were on offering more than just sports and having campaigns that cover illicit but also legal substances.

Other side events held today that may be of interest are:

Other events

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) held regular Annual General Assembly. The Committee welcomed new members, reviewed and approved the VNGOC annual report and reflected on activities for 2018/19 including those of the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF), got information about the annual accounts for 2018, the latest financial status and audited accounts for 2018, Strategic Plan 2019-21 and Budget for 2019 and Voluntary Code of Conduct for NGOs at the CND and received an update on developments within UNODC. The Committee discussed the future organisation of the VNGOC, based on the background paper presented by the Board.

Following a governance review process undertaken in 2017, VNGOC agreed to stagger the elections for the VNGOC Board to ensure greater stability and continuity. In order to do this, three of the positions elected last year were given one-year terms, the other three positions were given the standard two-year terms. This year, the following three positions were up for re-election: Chairperson, Deputy Treasurer, Deputy Secretary. Our friend fro International Drug Policy Consortium Jamie Bridge was re-elected for the Chairperson. Congratulations!

Paris Pact Expert Working Group (EWG) on Integrating Drug Dependence Treatment in the Public Health System

Paris Pact Expert Working Group on Integrating Drug Dependence Treatment and  Care in the Public Health System. Belgrade, 10.10.2016
Paris Pact Expert Working Group on Integrating Drug Dependence Treatment and Care in the Public Health System.
Belgrade, 10.10.2016

Paris Pact Expert Working Group on Integrating Drug Dependence and Care in the Public Health

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia and the Government of the Republic of Serbia hosted the Paris Pact Expert Working Group (EWG) on Integrating Drug Dependence Treatment in the Public Health System. The meeting was held at the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade on 10 and 11 October 2016.

The meeting of this working group is part of the activities of the Paris Pact Initiative and the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). Participants had the opportunity to discuss current trends and scientifically based approach to the treatment of drug addicts, as well as the implications of UNGASS-a – special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the global drugs problem. UNODC also introduced international standards of treatment of drug addiction, common document prepared by UNODC and the World Health Organization.

The event brought together 64 participants representing 22 member countries of the Paris Pact Initiative (Central Asia, Iran and the Balkan) and 3 international organisations. It included the series of interactive sessions where participants discussed, among other things, about the general situation regarding the use of drugs as well as on national systems for the treatment of addiction in the public health system.

The meeting started with the presentation of international standards of treatment of disorders of the drug use by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organization, presented by the Dr. Elizabeth Sáenz, UNODC, with the objective to exchange and discuss frameworks for the integration of treating drug addiction in the health care system.

What followed were presentations by the member countries of the Paris Pact on national systems of treatment for substance use and the system of prevention; shortcomings and challenges and the Round Table with the objectives to identify gaps and challenges in the process of building a comprehensive and integrated system for the treatment of drugs in accordance with the international standards.

Special emphasis was given to group discussion on the existing mechanisms for quality assurance in the countries of Western and Central Asia and the Balkans, with group work discussion on common regional issues and explore opportunities for regional cooperation.

DPNSEE staff members, as well as representatives of the two Network’s member organisations (Prevent and Re Generacija) and few other civil society organisations from Serbia, were part of the Balkan Working group. The group made conclusions and gave recommendations on several topics such as Policy, Research, Prevention and Treatment regarding the challenges, needs gaps and opportunities. It was concluded that for the matter of the policy there are National strategies in the region but there is no specified budget for their implementation. Regarding prevention it was concluded that there is no enough evidence based treatment programs, and not enough prevention programs integrated in the curriculum of schooling systems, that could adequately address the needs. For the matter of the research, there is not enough funding and resources, and it is seen as a missing ring. Throughout whole discussion it was highly recognized that the leave of the Global Fund and lack of readiness of the Government to support and make services sustainable as a biggest problem. Lack of programs for rehabilitation and re-socialization is recognized along with lack of harm reduction programs, but mostly by the NGOs that were invited to participate in the discussion.

Second day continued with presentation from the members of the Paris Pact, and presentations that were oriented on emphasis of a multi-sectorial approach in the treatment and care of drug addicts.

The members of the DPNSEE stuff and representatives of DPNSEE member organizations had a lot of contacts with country representatives at the Workshop. They were approached by the delegates from Uzbekistan and The Russian Federation, expressing interest in work of the civil society organisations in the region of South East Europe and wish to connect and cooperate more in the future.

The expert meeting closed with review of the expert recommendations, a summary of conclusions and discussion in order to assess progress and consider putting priority conclusions with concrete and measurable proposals for the enforceable improvement.