A new action plan in the field of addiction in Croatia

The Croatian Institute for Public Health, together with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior, presented the new Action Plan in the field of addiction for the period up to 2026. In order to achieve the priorities and special goals defined by the National Addiction Strategy for the period up to 2030, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted in January 2024 the first Action Plan (out of two that will accompany the implementation of the National Strategy).

It was pointed out that the trends speak in favor of the fact that in the last few years there has been an increased prevalence of the use of addictive substances, especially drugs, and new challenges are also brought by behavioral addictions (gambling, betting, playing video games, excessive use of the Internet and social networks).

The plan puts special emphasis on providing support in the implementation of scientifically based preventive programs, implementing recovery and rehabilitation programs, strengthening the competences of experts through systematic training on scientifically based prevention and treatment practices and current international and EU standards, creating guidelines, standards and protocols for ensuring quality implementation of interventions. In addition to the above, significant efforts are focused on timely detection and monitoring of the emergence of new psychoactive substances and associated health risks through the national Early Warning System.

To access the Action plan (in Croatian), follow this link>>>.


RYCO’s Regional Strategy Forum

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) has organised the Regional Strategy Forum aimed at gathering inputs from the region for its new three-year strategic plan. The three-day event was held in Fruška Gora, Serbia, 8-10 November, and gathered more than 70 representatives of civil society, governments, international and regional organizations, and youth. The final RYCO Strategic Plan 2022-2024 is planned to be adopted by the end of the year.

During the forum, RYCO has presented the results of the local consultations which gathered over 370 people in the previous months as well as its recently published Shared Futures study which it aims to use as the evidence-based tool for the strategy development. On the other side, the participants discussed RYCO vision and values, youth exchanges and intercultural learning, peace building education, peace outreach, peace supportive environment, support and building capacities of peace building multipliers, and cross-cutting issues such as gender, inclusion, participation, etc. Furthermore, they also discussed partnership building and outreach and visibility of RYCO.

Nenad Maletin from the DPNSEE Office participated in the Forum.

RYCO thanked all dedicated participants for their invaluable inputs and support. The event we showed that the Western Balkans has a bright future only if we join our forces and work towards a common goal – a prosperous Western Balkans, a region closer to the European Union where young people want to stay and build their future. The Regional Strategy Forum is an example of such a region.


New global AIDS strategy

From the UNAIDS press release

The UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) has adopted by consensus a new Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 to get every country and every community on track to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The strategy was adopted by the PCB during a special session, chaired by the Minister of Health of Namibia, held on 24 and 25 March 2021.

The Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS, uses an inequalities lens to close the gaps preventing progress to end AIDS and sets out bold new targets and polices to be reached by 2025 to propel new energy and commitment to ending AIDS. The UNAIDS Secretariat and its 11 Cosponsors worked to develop the new strategy, which received inputs from more than 10 000 stakeholders from 160 countries.

The strategy puts people at the centre and aims to unite all countries, communities and partners across and beyond the HIV response to take prioritized action to transform health and life outcomes for people living with and affected by HIV. The three strategic priorities are to:

  1. Maximize equitable and equal access to comprehensive people-centred HIV services;
  2. Break down legal and societal barriers to achieving HIV outcomes; and
  3. Fully resource and sustain HIV responses and integrate them into systems for health, social protection and humanitarian settings.

If the targets and commitments in the strategy are achieved, the number of people who newly acquire HIV will decrease from 1.7 million in 2019 to less than 370 000 by 2025 and the number of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses will decrease from 690 000 in 2019 to less than 250 000 in 2025. The goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children will see the number of new HIV infections drop from 150 000 in 2019 to less than 22 000 in 2025.

HIV prevention for key and priority populations receives unprecedented urgency and focus in the strategy, which calls on countries to utilize the full potential of HIV prevention tools, especially for adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa, sex workers, people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people and people in prison settings.

The strategy is based on human rights, gender equality and dignity, free from stigma and discrimination for all people living with and affected by HIV, and is the result of extensive analysis of HIV data and an inclusive process of consultation with countries, communities and partners.

Achieving the goals and targets of the new strategy will require annual HIV investments in low- and middle-income countries to rise to a peak of US$ 29 billion by 2025. The total resource needs for lower-income- and lower-middle-income countries is around US$ 13.7 billion. Donor resources are mainly needed for low-income and lower-middle-income countries, while in upper-middle-income countries, which account for 53% of the investments needed, domestic resources are the predominant source of funding.

The priority actions for Eastern Europe and central Asia include:

  1. Urgently expand access to combination HIV prevention, including PrEP and harm reduction. This calls for focused steps to ensure a sound, seamless and sustainable transition of prevention programmes from donor to domestic funding. Gender-responsive harm reduction programmes for people (including adolescents and young people) who use stimulant drugs or other new psychoactive substances must be introduced and scaled up.
  2. Close gaps in the testing and treatment cascade by rolling out the treat-all approach fully, with particular attention to linkages to care and rapid initiation of treatment for all people with new or previous HIV diagnosis. Testing and treatment scale-up for key populations must be prioritized.
  3. Institutionalize community-led services into national health care and HIV prevention systems, ensuring that community-led services account for at least 30% of HIV service delivery.
  4. Remove discriminatory and punitive laws, policies and structural barriers (HIV transmission, exposure, barriers to treatment for migrants, laws criminalizing key populations, including adolescents and young people), strengthen the capacity of the judiciary to promote and protect human rights in the context of HIV, and reduce stigma in medical settings, legislative and educational institutions, and law enforcement practices.
  5. Transform harmful gender norms and reduce gender-based violence, including through the use of digital technologies to improve access to services for all in need.

To read the Strategy, please follow this link>>>.


The Robert Carr Fund Fund’s 2020-2024 Strategy

The Robert Carr Fund has adopted the Fund’s strategy 2020 – 2024. The strategy was developed in a participatory process in 2019 and was officially launched at the AIDS2020 conference in July 2020.

The strategy will chart the Fund’s course through 2024. It is rooted in the strategic approaches of fostering a culture of learning and nurturing partnerships that benefit ISPs and advances three strategic priorities:

  • Movement leadership
  • Financial health and resilience
  • Innovation and creativity

To learn more about the Robert Carr Fund’s strategic priorities and approaches, please read the Strategic Plan 2020-2024 follow this link>>>.

You can also listen to the strategy presentation delivered during the AIDS2020, where it was discussed by the members of the civil society, International Steering Committee, and RCF Funders.

Craig McClure, the Chair of the ISC, emphasized that “The strategy builds on and amplifies the original vision for the Robert Carr Fund.  It aspires to a brighter future for civil society networks, while being grounded in a response to the unique challenges of our times“.


UNAIDS Strategy Beyond 2021 Development Process

Text from the NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS PCB

UNAIDS is now in the process of developing its next Strategy for 2021 and beyond. The timeline for developing the Strategy was supposed to have started early this year, but it was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now been extended to accommodate a longer consultation period to ensure a full and more meaningful engagement of all stakeholders in the process. These details are reflected in the PCB Paper “UNAIDS Strategy Beyond 2021” which is posted to the UNAIDS website.

In order to determine the new goalposts and targets, it is important to take stock and review the existing strategy, UNAIDS 2016-2021 Strategy. This consultation process will involve interviews, focus group discussions and an online survey that will culminate in a multi-stakeholder consultation no later than September 2020.

As a first step in engaging communities and civil society more widely, we invite you to respond to the Online Survey. This 15-20 minute survey is an opportunity to obtain perspectives on how UNAIDS is reaching its goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Is the current strategy successful or not? Did it effect change? What should have been done better? Where should the next Strategy be headed? Your perspectives on these themes will help inform and shape the content of the next Strategy, so that it is more responsive, inclusive, progressive and bold in the goals and targets it will set for the global HIV response beyond 2021.

Survey Links:

English: https://bit.ly/3gND9nQ

Español: http://bit.ly/2MmkhhN

Français: http://bit.ly/2Mk2Hv1

Português: http://bit.ly/3gOPWq2

Русский: http://bit.ly/3dxIduQ

中文: http://bit.ly/36SR7jT

العربية: http://bit.ly/3cqwUmA

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.

Planning for the future

Following the proposal from the General Assembly held in last December, Drug Policy Network South East Europe held a Strategic Workshop from 14 to 17 May 2019. The workshop was held in the Student Resort on Avala Mountain, nearby Belgrade.

At the Assembly, DPNSEE has analysed achievement of aims and objectives of the strategic plan adopted in 2016 and indicated in which way and by which activities the priorities will be followed in the next years. Now, the aim of the Workshop was to continue this process and define DPNSEE strategic priorities, goals and targets for the forthcoming period.

Representatives of all member organisations were invited to participate in the Workshop. 21 participants from 9 countries of the region gathered for a three-day workshop and worked in cooperation. The consultant which helped us to design the Workshop, facilitate work and structure the outcomes was Raminta Štuikyte.

In preparations for the Workshop, DPNSEE member organisations were invited to fill in a survey to present their situation and needs. In addition, a survey was offered to a variety of partners, from national drug agencies to regional and international organisations, to help us understand better the situation and trends in a wider context. The feedback was an important input for the Workshop.

Five priority areas were identified (working titles):

  • Optimisation of services
  • Financial sustainability
  • Regulating drugs
  • Human rights
  • Strengthening the network

For each of them, small groups were discussing questions: What kind of changes you want to see? What Network could do? (types of activities, partnerships…) Which are the priority countries for the issue from the region? Which member organisations could take the lead? Which are potential sources of funding? What should we do in the first two years.

Results of the Workshop are being processed and will be offered to all the member organisations for further development. Following the Workshop, we shall continue strategic work so that the new Strategic Plan is adopted at the annual General Assembly planned for the end of 2019.

Building a new HIV Strategy in Serbia

Recent National HIV in Serbia expired in 2015 and since then there were no initiatives to design a new one. Finally, this autumn, with revival of the activities around potential Global Fund project support, the Ministry of Health started a process of building a new HIV Strategy.

The process is quite fast – it started in early November with the deadline for the draft set at the end of 2017. A working group of five people was appointed, including one representative of the civil society. Each of the working group members was leading the process of producing the text in one of the priority areas: 1) Prevention, 2) Medical treatment and support to people living with HIV, 3) Stigma and discrimination, 4) Quality standards and 5) Strategic information.

In each of the subgroups, a dialogue between various stakeholders, governmental, civil society, academia and people living with HIV, was productive in analysing the situation and proposing new aims, measures and activities. DPNSEE and member organisations representatives participated actively in this endeavour. And success was achieved: the final meeting of the expert group, held on 25 December 2017, resulted in producing the final draft of the Strategy and the Action plan 2018 – 2021 for implementing it!

Even though the process short and the task challenging, we hope that the result will lay ground for a comprehensive and effective respond to HIV in Serbia.