A hearing meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament took place on 20 February 2019 to discuss draft law submitted by the Health Ministry. Among others, it includes various amendments of the Law 4139/2013 on drugs as well as a specific provision for the legal establishment of supervised drug consumption sites in Greece. The debate over the recent draft law is entitled “Private Clinics Statutory Framework, Modernization and Reformative recommendations, The National Public Health Organization establishment, the National Institute of Neoplasms and the other provisions establishment”.
Sofia Galinaki, Advocacy Officer of Diogenis and representative of the Greek organizations’ Platform for psychoactive substances, participated in the hearing, during which in cooperation with other Platform’s member organizations presented a series of proposals aiming to improve this legislative initiative.
Α relevant proposals’ memorandum was submitted on behalf of the Platform to the Committee and the Minister of Health, Mr A. Xanthos.
The second reading of the draft law by the Committee scheduled for 26 February 2019.
Delegation of the project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public Health and human rights oriented Drug Policy in South East Europe ” visits Bulgaria from 29 to 30 May. The visit is part of the efforts for the enlargement of the Network as an essential prerequisite for making it a strong and reliable partner.
The main aims of the visit are to: (a) present DPNSEE to the Bulgarian society, (b) build strong relationships, enhance contacts and improve drug policy dialogue with the relevant authorities, state institutions, policy makers and NGOs, (c) explore opportunities for partnerships and collaboration and (d) discuss possible applications of local civil society organizations for membership in DPNSEE. The experiences from Bulgaria, country that is in transition from communist to EU member state, are of interest, especially because it will hold the EU presidency in the first half of 2018.
The delegation consists of 3 people: Marios Atzemis, DPNSEE Board member, Milutin Milošević, Executive director and Sofia Galinaki, Advocacy Officer, Diogenis (DPNSEE member organisation).
The first day of the visit, the delegation had an interesting exchange with Dr Vyara Georgieva, the Chief Expert in the Ministry of Health for the programmes financed by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Petar Tsintsarski, Consultant for the program Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS. The key learning points from this meeting are that the HIV/AIDS problem should be seen from various angles besides medical: cultural, social etc. and that financing services should be concentrated on the level of local communities.
During the meeting in the National Centre for Addiction with Momtchil Vassilev, Director of the National Focal Point on Drugs and Drug Addictions and Nikolay Butorin, Expert on Training Programmes, the delegation got a lot of data about drugs in the country. Improvement of Early Warning System for new psychoactive substances was an issue of joint interest.
For the second day of the visit, meetings were first scheduled with two civil society organisations: Initiative for Health Foundation and Centre for humane policy. Our colleagues gave us a realistic and open vies on the situation in the country, especially in the light of termination of the Global Fund support that will cause closing of services to drug users.
Dr Tsvetelina Raicheva, who recently directed the National Addiction Centre provided more statistics about the situation. At the Centre for the Study of Democracy the representatives of the network had a meeting with Mr. Dimitar Markov (Senior Analyst and Project Director, Law Program) and Mr. Atanas Rusev (Senior Analyst, Security Program). The Security program implements criminology research, actively contributes to the Bulgaria’s policy debate on organized crime and participates in projects on crime and security issues. The issues of inadequate funding and bureaucracy in the field of drugs were highlighted in this meeting as one of the biggest barriers at policy level. Moreover, the need for more action in the issue of immigration and its connection to drug use through several routes has to be identified and addressed.
Representatives of the Drug Policy Network in South East Europe (DPNSEE) visited Croatia from 22 to 24 March 2017. This activity is part of a series of country visits within the framework of the project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public Health and human rights oriented Drug Policy in South East Europe” as described within the work plan for 2017 and it was undertaken by NGO “Diogenis Drug Policy Dialogue” – the lead organization of the project – in close cooperation with DPNSEE. The delegation – consisting of Nebojša Đurasović, Deputy Treasurer and DPNSEE Board member, Milutin Milošević, DPNSEE Executive director and Sofia Galinaki, Diogenis Advocacy Officer – visited local authorities, institutions and NGOs working in the field of drugs based in the capital Zagreb and the cities of Split and Rijeka.
The visit was part of the efforts for the enlargement of the Network as an essential prerequisite for making it a strong and reliable partner. The main aims of the visit were to: (a) present DPNSEE to the Croatian society, (b) build strong relationships, enhance contacts and improve drug policy dialogue with the relevant authorities, state institutions, policy makers and NGOs, (c) explore opportunities for partnerships and collaboration and (d) discuss possible applications of local civil society organizations for membership in DPNSEE. More specifically, the delegation came in contact, discussed and exchange important information and experiences with: representatives from the Office for Combating Drugs Abuse of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Ranko Ostojić – recent vice Prime minister and Minister of Interior, currently Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Domestic Policy and National Security, representatives from the NGOs ‘LET’ – based in Zagreb, ‘HELP’ – based in Split, ‘TERRA’, ‘VIDA’, and ‘OASA’ – based in Rijeka and representatives from the Educational Institute for Public Health of the Split – Dalmatia county.
The most important observation the delegation gained was that the governmental institutions operate in a very effective way, using an interdisciplinary approach. There is a well-organized and structured system in place, which covers the entire range of needs related to drug use. The system is decentralised, so that each of the 21 counties (županije) has its own tasks and responsibilities. Further on, local authorities and institutions take their own part and that is usually very well coordinated at county level. Moreover, the strong and ongoing cooperation between the competent state agencies and local Civil Society organizations significantly contributes in the overall implementation of the Croatian drug policy in a consistent way.
More detailed information regarding the: programme and preparation of the visit, structure of the Croatian drug policy system, important projects implemented within the 10-year Croatian Drug Strategy (2007-2017), harm reduction field, drug law reform, role of civil society in the implementation of drug policy, areas of improvement and the potential of future cooperation can be found in the full report available on request from the DPNSEE Office.