Кey results of our intense and encouraging 2018 we could concentrate in three simple pictures:
«Our actions are aimed to ensure that the following measures are taken in the countries of CEECA: Drug use, possession and purchase of drugs should no longer be a criminal or administrative crime; Drug dependence should no longer be an aggravation but should be considered as a basis for social and medical care provision» – that is how ourPosition Paper on Drug Policy was formulated after hot and long discussions between EHRA members. It is first time when members are developing joint position needed for developing concrite advocacy steps on regional and national levels.
Criminalization of drugs use and possession costs to society too much, in some countries it could be 5-10 times more expensive then support person in freedom with harm reduction services and unemployment wages – that are conclusions of assessment conducted by EHRA in 26 countries in CEECA region – Criminalization cost.
Discrimination and criminalization of key affected populations is the key barrier for effective HIV response in EECA region – this become clear for all 18 thousand participants of International AIDS conference (AIDS2018) thank to loud community campaign “Chase the virus not people!”. Campaign was organized in partnership of 9 regional networks and organizations of EECA region. DuringAIDS2018 inAmsterdam EHRA conducted 25 sessions and events.
We are grateful to friends and partners from Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD), Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM), Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS (EWNA), the East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO),Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN), Teenergizer and AFEW International for encouraging and creative cooperation.
We are developing our governance and collective decision making systems. In2018 newSteeringCommittee(SC) waselected. In October Mari Chokheli from Georgia was elected as the SC Chair, Yuliya Georgieva (Bulgaria) and Alexander Levin (Russia) were elected as the SC Co-Chairs. This year membership of EHRA grows to 250 organizational and individual members from 28 countries of Central, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. KeydecisionsaremadebymembersinGeneralAssembly. In May 2018 the EHRA Advisory Board was formed consisting of Pavel Bem, Julia Buxton, John-Peter Kools and Rick Lines and organizational Treasurer starts her duties. In the beginning of 2018 EHRA operational procedures were developed and approved in line with key donors and best financial management approaches requirements.
EHRA was learning a lot in 2018. It was our first advocacy campaign of such a scale, there were first demonstrations in front of Embassies and fist monitoring system for Criminal Code implementation. We have new leadership and Advisory Board. It was our first time in joint discussion developing organizational policy paper.
We became stronger and built new solid partnerships – exactly what is needed to reform drug policy and ensure sustainability of harm reduction services in CEECA region in New 2019 Year!