EHRA is looking for for the expert to develop and facilitate Workshop in Azerbaijan

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) in the scope of the EECA Regional Platform project supported by the Global Fund is aimed to organize a workshop targeted on civil society and community representatives in Azerbaijan. The workshop is going to take place in Baku (Azerbaijan) on 7 – 8 of June 2018. 

Objectives of the workshop are to:

  1. To build knowledge on the processes with regard to the transition of national HIV/AIDS and TB responses from Global Fund support to national funding; 
  2. To understand the possible consequences for HIV\TB programs if the planned transition is not well-managed, including looking at examples of some other countries in the region;
  3. To understand the importance of the involvement of civil society and communities’ representatives in all stages of the transition processes and the existing opportunities and entry points for such involvement;
  4. To understand what HIV and TB services and program components are the most vulnerable within the transition process in Azerbaijan and to plan the possible actions in 2018 to insure their sustainability;
  5. To discuss and identify the possible content of the request for TA for civil society and communities in Azerbaijan within the GF CRG TA Program

The working languages of the workshop will be Russian and Azerbaijanian.

How to apply

The candidates are invited to submit their CV, Letter of interest and state the daily rate in USD (including the taxes) by e-mail referenced under title “Consultant to develop and facilitate S&T Workshop in Azerbaijan” to ivan@harmreductioneurasia.org by COB 03 of May 2018 24:00 EET.

Please see more information in the document below

Terms of Reference

Announcement of EHRA members online General Meeting

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) announces the convocation of the members online General meeting, in period from 21st May 2018 to 4th June 2018.

General meeting suggested agenda:

1. Approval of EHRA financial report for 2017 year (Statement from EHRA Treasurer will be sent until 16th May, 2018);

2. Approval of Regulations of the General and Regional meetings of the members of EHRA (Please find attached Regulations);

3. Approval of Regulations of the Steering Committee of EHRA (Please, find attached Regulations);

4. Approval to prolong terms for 2 more months for the 5 members of the Steering Committee and shorten term of 2 months for 1 member (Please find attached document with suggested terms);

5. Approval of the timeline of the Regional meetings to elect Steering Committee members (Please find attached document with suggested dates);

6. Approval of EHRA Advisory Board (List of candidates for EHRA Advisory Board will be sent until 16th May, 2018);

Timeline of the General meeting:

23 April, 2018 – announcement of the General meeting of EHRA members

23 April – 16 May, 2018 – documents for the General meeting are sent to members

21 May – 4 June, 2018 – online voting

For any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Secretary of the General meeting Eliza Kurcevic by the e-mail: members@harmreductioneurasia.org 

Announcement of EHRA members online Regional meetings to elect Steering Committee members

Eurasian Harm Reduction Association announces the convocation of the members regional meetings to elect Steering Committee members from the following regions: South-Eastern Europe and Russia.
A list of Steering Committee members subject to rotation, is as follows:

  • Tijana Žegura (South-Eastern Europe) resigned in January;
  • Maksim Malyshev (Russia).

Schedule of elections:

  • From 23 April to 14 May, 2018– nomination process (3 weeks). Candidates are submitting their applications to participate in the Steering Committee elections
  • From 21 Мay to 4 June, 2018 – online voting to elect Steering Committee members in the South-Eastern Europe and Russia regions
  • 5 June, 2018 – announcement of the results.

We are inviting all EHRA members from the above-mentioned regions to submit applications to become a member of the Steering Committee until 14th May, 2018.

The requirements for the candidates are:

  • be a member of EHRA;
  • demonstrate readiness and ability to work responsibly and actively as a Steering Committee member;
    follow the principles listed in the Association Steering Committee Regulations (please, find the document attached);
  • to reside within a region participating in the current elections;
  • to avoid a potential conflict of interests, candidates cannot be representatives of Association’s donor organizations.

ATTENTION! According EHRA Regulations, a country represented in a particular region may have only one representative in the Steering Committee who is elected in the Regional Meeting. Therefore, EHRA Members from BULGARIA CANNOT submit their candidacies, as one of the EHRA Steering Committee members is from Bulgaria.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate Secretary of the Regional meetings Eliza Kurcevic, by e-mail: members@harmreductioneurasia.org

Status of transitions from Global Fund support in the EECA region

Author: Ivan Varentsov, EHRA Sustainability and Transition Advisor and Coordinator of the EECA Regional Platform for Communication and Coordination

Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) is one of two regions, along with Latin America and the Caribbean, where planning for the transition away from Global Fund support is most advanced. In this article, we provide an overview of the transition status of HIV, TB and malaria components of the countries in the EECA.

The STC Policy

In April 2016, the Global Fund’s Board adopted a Sustainability, Transition and Co-Financing (STC) Policy, which outlines (a) the high-level principles for engaging with countries on the long-term sustainability of Global Fund–supported programs, as well as (b) a framework for ensuring successful transitions from Global Fund financing.

According to the STC Policy, all countries, regardless of their economic capacity and disease burden, should be planning for sustainability and embedding sustainability considerations within national strategies, and program and grant design and implementation. For countries with high disease burdens and fewer resources, the STC Policy emphasizes the need for domestic investments to build resilient and sustainable systems for health and move towards universal health coverage. As countries move along the development continuum –– either by increasing economic resources or lowering disease burden –– expectations are for greater transition planning, as well as for co-financing targeting specific transition challenges and programming for key populations.

The Global Fund’s Eligibility Policy allows components that become ineligible from one allocation period to the next to receive one allocation of transition funding “for priority transition needs.” This applies to most country components with existing grants, but there are exceptions. Components are not eligible for transition funding if the country:

  • becomes categorized as high-income; or
  • is a member of the G-20, moves to upper-middle-income (UMI) status and has less than an extreme disease burden; or
  • becomes a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

For components eligible for transition funding, the STC Policy states that the funding request should focus exclusively on activities that are included in the country’s transition work plan and that are essential to achieving, by the end of the grant, full domestic funding and management of activities currently funded by the Global Fund.

The clause concerning transition funded was added to the Fund’s eligibility policy in November 2013. (The policy was called the Eligibility and Counterpart Financing Policy at the time.)

For the purposes of this overview, we have divided components into the following categories:

  • components that did not receive transition funding because they were already ineligible when the policy on transition funding was adopted;
  • components receiving transition funding for the 2017–2019 allocation period;
  • other components that are projected to transition away from Global Fund support by 2025;
  • other components that have started transition planning; and
  • components that still have time for long-term transition planning.

Components that did not receive transition funding because they were already ineligible when the policy on transition funding was adopted

A number of components are included in this category. Below, we list those that were active as recently as 2015.

Bulgaria HIV. The last HIV grant was a rounds-based grant that was originally planned to end on 31 December 2015. In order to support the country with HIV prevention activities for key populations, the grant was extended and then went through a closure period that ended in September 2017. In both 2016 and 2017, as per the Global Fund’s eligibility list, Bulgaria HIV was potentially eligible for funding under the NGO Rule. However, Bulgaria did not meet the political barriers requirement of the rule.

Bosnia and Herzegovina HIV. The last rounds-based HIV grant ended on 30 September 2016, after which it went through a grant closure period. The closure period continued into 2017. At the end of 2017, the Global Fund Secretariat, using flexibilities under the STC Policy, exceptionally approved to continue the grant closure period through 31 November 2018. This will allow the continuation of a limited number of activities to facilitate the transition of prevention and care and support services for key populations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina TB. The end date for the last TB grant was 31 July 2016.

Macedonia HIV. The last rounds-based HIV grant came to an end in December 2017. This was after a 12-month non-costed extension of the grant was made using flexibilities under the STC Policy to help ensure a responsible transition of HIV activities, and to support ongoing efforts at the country level to advocate for increased domestic resources for key and vulnerable populations.

Macedonia TB. The last TB grant formally ended in September 2016. There was a non-costed grant extension to 31 March 2017 to support the country to transition from Global Fund support.

(Both Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were ineligible for Global Fund support as early as 2010 because they were categorized as upper-middle-income (UMI) countries and had less than a high disease burden for both HIV and TB. Both countries benefited from a previous policy provision which allowed them to still be considered as lower-middle-income (LMI) countries.

Russian Federation HIV. The last HIV grant ended in December 2017, with a closure period expected to end in June 2018. This was a non-CCM grant under the NGO Rule.

Serbia TB. The last rounds-based TB grants ended on 31 March and 30 June 2015.

Components receiving transition funding in 2017–2019

The following components became ineligible for regular funding after the 2014–2016 allocations were announced and were therefore eligible to receive transition funding for 2017–2019:

Albania HIV. This component became ineligible for regular funding in 2015 and was subsequently allocated $1.1 million in transition funding for 2017–2019.

Albania TB. This component became ineligible for regular funding in 2015 and was subsequently allocated $500,000 in transition funding for 2017–2019.

Turkmenistan TB. This component became ineligible for regular funding in 2016 and was subsequently allocated $4.0 million in transition funding for 2017–2019.

Note: Bulgaria has an existing TB grant from the 2014–2016 allocation period which is scheduled to end in September 2018. The TB component became ineligible for further regular funding in 2016. Bulgaria TB should have been eligible to receive transition funding for 2017–2019. However, Aidspan was told by the Global Fund Secretariat that in June 2015 the existing TB grant was developed and negotiated with the understanding that Bulgaria would not receive further funding from the Global Fund, and that the necessary measures for a successful transition to domestic funding would be adopted during implementation of the existing grant (see GFO article).

Other components projected to transition by 2025

To support countries in their planning, the Global Fund produced a list of components projected to transition fully from Global Fund financing by 2025 due to changes in income categorization and/or disease burden classification. (The list assumes current eligibility criteria will continue to apply.) The following EECA components are on this list:

Kosovo HIV and TB. Both components are projected to become ineligible in 2020–2022 based the country’s anticipated move to upper-middle-income status and may receive transition funding in 2023–2025.

Kazakhstan HIV and TB. The country is projected to move to the high-income category during 2023–2025. Both components will not be entitled to receive transition funding because high-income countries are ineligible across the board.

Armenia HIV and TB. According to the recently published Eligibility List 2018, Armenia is newly categorized as a UMI country. As a result, both components are now eligible to receive a final allocation of transition funding in 2020-2022. (See GFO article on the new eligibility list.)

Other components that have started transition planning

The Global Fund expects all eligible UMI countries –– and all eligible LMI countries with components whose disease burden is classified as low or moderate –– to begin sustainability and transition planning, or to build upon existing planning, during the 2017–2019 period. There are six countries in the EECA with components that are in this cohort and that are not already on the list of components projected to transition by 2025: Azerbaijan (HIV, TB), Belarus (HIV, TB), Georgia (HIV, TB), Montenegro (HIV), Serbia (HIV) and Romania (TB). These countries are already working on transition. For example, both Belarus and Georgia have already developed formal transition plans and have started to implement them (for Belarus, see GFO article).

There are no active Global Fund malaria grants in the EECA region.

Components that still have time for long-term sustainability and transition planning

While it is not possible to predict with certainty transition timelines, components from low-income countries (regardless of disease burden) and components from LMI countries with a disease burden classification of high or above are not expected to transition from the Global Fund support imminently. But under the STC Policy, they are expected to focus on long-term sustainability planning by supporting the development of robust national health strategies, disease-specific strategic plans and health financing strategies.

There are no low-income countries in EECA region. However, components from the following LMI countries fall under this category: Kyrgyzstan (HIV, TB), Moldova (HIV, TB), Tajikistan (HIV, TB), Uzbekistan (HIV, TB), Ukraine (HIV, TB).

Summary table

The following table provides a list of the components in the various categories discussed above.

Table: Components in the various categories of transition from Global Fund support

Ineligible before the policy on transition funding was adopted * Receiving transition funding in 2017–2019 Projected to transition by 2025 Started transition planning Still have time for long-term sustainability and transition planning
Bulgaria HIV
B&H HIV, TB
Macedonia HIV
Russia HIV
Serbia TB
Albania HIV, TB
Turkmenistan TB
Armenia HIV, TB
Kosovo HIV, TB
Kazakhstan HIV, TB
Azerbaijan HIV, TB
Belarus HIV, TB
Georgia HIV, TB Montenegro HIV
Serbia HIV
Kyrgyzstan HIV, TB
Moldova HIV, TB
Tajikistan HIV, TB
Uzbekistan HIV, TB
Ukraine HIV, TB

* In the first column, only components still active as recently as 2015 are listed.

Transition in reverse: Components that regained their eligibility

There are three countries in EECA region whose HIV components were newly classified as eligible on the Eligibility List 2017 after meeting eligibility criteria for two consecutive eligibility determinations, and which received allocations for the 2017–2019 period. These components are as follows:

Kazakhstan HIV. This component became ineligible for Global Fund support in 2011 because it was a UMI country with only a moderate disease burden. However, its HIV disease burden classification changed to high on the Eligibility List 2016.

Montenegro HIV.  Montenegro became ineligible for both HIV and TB in 2008 when it moved up to UMI status and its HIV and TB components had less than a high disease burden. Both components “hung on” until Round 9 in 2009 because they benefited from a previous policy provision (which is no longer exists) which allowed them to “keep” their LMI status for an extra year. In 2016, Montenegro’s HIV disease burden classification was changed to “high.”

Serbia HIV. As a UMI country, Serbia’s funding ended abruptly after its HIV burden was lowered to moderate. Its HIV burden classification went back up to high in 2015.

Both Montenegro and Serbia were told, via their allocation letters, that their allocations for 2017–2019 were conditional on their funding requests focusing on key affected populations. Specifically, the letters stated that the allocations “are dependent on the functionality, in form and substance acceptable to the Global Fund, of a social contracting mechanism for engagement of non-governmental organizations through which the … governmental institution(s) and the Global Fund will finance HIV prevention, care and support activities.”

Source of the original content: http://www.aidspan.org/gfo_article/status-transitions-global-fund-support-eeca-region

I do it – IDUIT

Author: Olga Belyaeva, Advocacy Manager, EHRA.

 «I was impressed by three unique events recently: seeing the Moon through a telescope, a concert by the rock band Leningrad and our training workshop. Alexander Kudryashev, Minsk. After our meeting was compared to the Moon and the creative and self-sufficient musician Shnur I feel entitled to publish my notes for people who organize meetings for people who use drugs*.

So here’s the task: hold a training workshop based on IDUIT,  which was created by the International Network of People Who Use Drugs with the support of UN agencies. It’s important that we understand and have a clear definition of the role we want to play in the decision-making process and in the implementation of those decisions.  We also need to understand how we can progress from being manipulated by the system to being able to influence decisions, shape state policies and strategies regarding drug policy and programs for people who use psychoactive substances. UN agencies developed guidelines on the proven and scientifically-based interventions that can influence the risks of spreading HIV and Hepatitis C among people who use drugs[1]. The International Network of People Using Drugs (INPUD) developed the IDUIT Practical Guidance that aims to preserve the values of harm reduction and allow community-based implementation of programs during the development, implementation and evaluation of necessary interventions. IDUIT describes how programs for people who use drugs can be carried out from the point of view of meaningful involvement of the communities in decision-making, program implementation and monitoring of their effectiveness. The document answers the following questions: what can we do and what should we do today, given the resources in hand and the circumstances we are in, to stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among people who use drugs?

How can we, during the three days of the workshop, share the knowledge and experience of thousands of people who, in some countries, survive despite provocations, killings based on suspicion only and torture, and in others, live safe lives, take part in medical heroin programs and work in cannabis grow shops or drop-in centres?

Here are the three components which the living energy of the meetings stems from:

a person from the community who believes it’s extremely important personally for him, for his family and friends to solve the systemic problem that results in repression against people who use drugs. Such a person attracts people with a purpose who are dedicated to changing the society’s attitude to substances and drug policies. There is a community of OST patients in Belarus called “Your Chance” and a movement of students who have the same goals as we do –  decriminalization of all substances and humane drug policy.

conditions. In the countries of our region where the drug policy is repressive and the rights of people who use drugs are very difficult to reinstate, the venue for the meeting should be free from any monitoring or control systems. It shouldn’t be a hotel with security and video cameras that contribute to increased nervousness and risks. Negotiate with a local drop-in-centre; ask people where they feel safe and comfortable in the city. It will help maintain positive dynamics and energy for change within the group. Also, the money that you’ll pay for the venue and food will go to the harm reduction programs and not to some business’ pocket.

– source of energy to keep moving. For all the living things on earth it’s the sun. For a community movement it’s its values.  An IDUIT coach should have a clear vision of the goal he’s leading the group towards, a coach who doesn’t need words to make us see the future we’re heading for. One’s right to privacy and to deciding whether to use a substance should be protected. Why did doctors in Amsterdam offer an apology to a guy they delivered methadone to while he was out but didn’t wait for him in order to say hello? While in our countries nurses end up behind bars for opening OST sites.  We drew up a layout of our drop-in centre which is cozy and has sustainable financing. It’s the first step towards understanding what we have at the moment and what can be changed. During the discussion, we ascertain and reiterate that it’s impossible to achieve safe and effective risk reduction programs without decriminalisation and science-based regulation of the psychoactive substance market. In Belarus, there is zero tolerance towards substances and people who use drugs. Any amount of substance, starting from 0.00..3 is already too much. “Too much” means 6 to 8 years in prison. The list of illicit substances is drawn up in a way that makes any new synthetic drug formula illegal. When synthetic drugs were legal, – say the participants, – they were used as stimulants: they made things and colours a bit brighter and the high from them made users feel better. Then access and formulas became more complicated. Now we are talking about adolescents of 12 to 14 years of age who consume cocktails the effects or risks of which are impossible to control. And we can’t even talk to them about the risks and ways to reduce them because the system will see it as propaganda of use, especially among minors. Only adults aged over 18 can enroll on harm reduction programs.

We have to be careful all the time about what exactly we’re discussing due to the risk of being jailed for spreading such knowledge. What is “IDUIT”?  It’s a description of approaches to and examples of creating a world in which people who use drugs are free to be themselves. That’s why we study each chapter of “IDUIT” through hands-on training where key values and foundations of the community-based approach are able to manifest themselves: motivational integrity, clear unambiguous goal, realities of the drug scene and ways to preserve the health and mental strength of people who are forced to be invisible for everyone, especially for the system, to survive.

 Chapter One of IDUIT:  empowering the community. We focused on a real-life situation that OST clients in Belarus are faced with – issues with the right to receive medication for self-administration. At the time of the meeting on March 27-29, a new instruction on OST, which included mechanisms for dispensing the drugs, passed the first stage of agreement by experts and civil society. During stage two, when the law enforcement agencies and other executive authorities were to approve the draft instruction, the chapter on dispensing medication for self-administration was removed.   Sergey Kryzhevich and Sergey Gartsev, leaders of the public organisation of OST patients “Your chance” had been responsible for preparing the documents on the part of the community. Together with the participants of the workshop they chose and invited experts to consult with regarding the next steps. This was the key moment for attracting allies and partners – when people are ready to hear about your motives and tasks, understand the goals and see what can be done right now to support the initiative. As a result, we prepared a letter to the Minister of Health requesting a suspension of the approval of the OST instruction and asking to reinstate the chapter on dispensing medication for self-administration. We collected 47 signatures and took them to the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus. We wrote to the UN agencies and to the Global Fund. We organised meetings and telephone consultations with relevant agencies: UNODC and UNAIDS. With the help of the Chairperson of the Country Coordination Mechanism (CCM) – Deputy Health Minister – a working meeting has been arranged involving all those who developed the Instruction, as well as addiction doctors, representatives of UN agencies, OST patients and drug control representatives. The meeting will take place on April 11 and will aim at agreeing the full and final version of an Instruction that will observe the human right for affordable and quality medical care. We have a week to prepare for the meeting thoroughly. Our task before it is to establish the position of all participants and to hold consultations. During the meeting, we take notes and put the outcomes of the discussions in writing immediately after it wraps up. And, of course, we are working on a plan B. The question of dispensing drugs to take home is a fundamental one: people are tired of having to choose between family and addiction treatment, career and addiction treatment, travel and addiction treatment. This is about understanding what Chapter One of the Guidance means in practical terms: it’s about empowering the community through clarifying goals, motives and clear distribution of tasks within a team. It’s also about the meaningful participation of the community in decision-making.

This is Chapter Two of the Guidance: legal reform, human rights, stigma and discrimination. It’s difficult to talk about the rights of people who use drugs in a country where a patient recovering from an overdose in hospital sees the police next to him and then he is taken from the hospital bed straight to court and to prison for three years. People fear that they might attract attention of drug control services if they’re caught looking up overdose treatment for bath salts on the internet. The war on drugs means eight years in prison which in turn means loss of health, money, illness and suffering in the family – things that are completely disproportionate to the effect and quantity of the drug they consumed and subsequently are being punished for.

It was an inspiration to learn there is a movement of students in Belarus who united to achieve humane and reasonable drug policy. We discussed the practical side of decriminalization in Portugal and the Czech Republic. The leaders of OST patient communities had already visited these countries and were confident that we could achieve a similar level of respect for the rights of people who use drugs. We discussed areas where we can support each other especially in the circumstances where we must think about the safety of the experts who help people who use drugs.

 

 

 

Chapter Three of the Guidance – health and support services from the point of view of the community. We discussed the lifestyle of a teenager who suffers from substance abuse. We heard about the work being done with relatives and friends of drug dependent teenagers in order to reduce risks. We prepared draft memos for people who use bath salts drawing on the practical experience of the participants such as people who consume stimulants and doctors. It’s the most pressing issue in Belarus: users of synthetic stimulants (new psychoactive substances) avoid any contact due to repressions, when going online to look up tips on sleep after taking bath salts could attract troublesome attention from authorities. We’ve come up with a plan to spread information. After watching the film “Bevel Up: Drugs, Users & Outreach Nursing”, shot about ten years ago and showing work of Canadian street nurses, the participants realized how far other countries have progressed towards humane and not discriminating attitude towards drug users compared to our countries.

In order to get closer to people who make or influence decisions, a meeting was organised with the representative of the Global Fund Grant Management Group in Belarus. We invited our colleagues from other groups vulnerable to rights violations to this meeting to form partnerships and communicate with community networks. Anya Nazarova, the leader of an initiative to help HIV-positive women (Belarus), attended it. By the time this blog is published, Anya should already become the head of a registered organization.

 

Chapter Four of IDUIT described community-led harm reduction service delivery approaches. The Global Fund grant for 2019-2021 is set to continue unchanged, but there is an opportunity for pilot projects. Building on their priorities, the workshop participants decided to prepare an application to the Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) Technical Assistance Program to justify the adjustments that should be made to some of the harm reduction programs so that they meet the needs of people who use synthetic substances. We also discussed the creation and funding of community-based and community-led drop-in centres. The money for our services is trapped within the system of repression and war on drugs. We need resources to prepare the rationale and proposals for change. We decided that the application for technical assistance under the Community, Rights and Gender program will help with the rationale.

When we arrived at Chapter Five – Program Management, hiring people who use drugs – employment-related questions arose. The meeting participants told us that harm reduction organizations require employees to give a written statement saying that they are aware that it’s forbidden to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The case of Sergey Kryzhevich shows that even the Supreme Court can’t issue a just ruling – he was unable to get his driver’s license back or cancel the fine of 1000 euros even though the evidence suggesting that he had been intoxicated was obtained with violations of some key procedures. In the Republic of Belarus, it’s illegal to be in the workplace in the above-mentioned state.  And we, the workshop participants and the employee of the Global Fund grants management team, were asking ourselves why harm reduction programs require their staff to sign such statements when they hire them for the very reason they use substances and therefore are able to help others reduce risks; what can those statements protect the employer from, and what risk do the outreach workers take when they sign them? The issue of the labour rights of people who use drugs has been up for an open discussion. This is the basic principle of the IDUIT Guidelines: to recognize human rights and freedoms, and if that’s not achievable today, to help by all means to achieve the ultimate goal: to exercise the human right to privacy, to respectful, affordable and safe social and medical assistance based on real needs of people who use drugs.

4:20   4th of April 2018

The training workshop was organized on the initiative of the UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Europe, prepared and conducted by the Belorussian public organisation “Your Chance” and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association.

[1] http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/idu/targets_universal_access/en/, the 2012 version. Geneva, WHO, 2013.  Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations–2016 update. Geneva, WHO, 2016.

Two Reports On Behalf Of People Who Use Drugs To Be Presented At The UN Committee On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, together with communities of people who use drugs from Estonia and Kazakhstan are presenting two parallel reports to the 62nd Pre-Sessional Working Group of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), which is meeting in Geneva this week.  Today, representatives from EHRA and Estonian organisation of people who use psychoactive substances LUNEST will give their statements regarding the enjoyment of social rights among women who use drugs and/or living with HIV in Estonia. On 4 April, during the discussion of the report from the Government of Kazakhstan, the issue of access to opioid maintenance therapy (OMT) and the protection of human rights of drug-dependent individuals and people living with HIV in the country will be raised.

Both parallel reports were written based on the disturbing information on the situation with people who use drugs that demonstrates that human rights of these groups of society in Estonia and Kazakhstan are gravely violated.

In case of Estonia, its Government is requested to address the issues of health, parental, child protection, and labor rights violations incurred by women who use drugs. These violations were detected during a research study conducted by a team of non-governmental organisations in 2017. Despite the fact that Estonia, compared to other post-Soviet states, has made good progress providing access to HIV prevention and treatment, violations of human rights against people who use drugs, their discrimination and stigmatisation is still an everyday occurrence, especially on behalf of state institutions, such as the police, child protection, and public health services.

The Government of Kazakhstan will be urged to provide information regarding the future of  OMT programs, since the outcomes of the state’s assessment in 2017 may lead to the complete halt of these programs in the country. This is not the first time that CESCR is dealing with the issue of OMT in Kazakhstan: in 2010, the Committee called on the Government of Kazakhstan to ensure that methadone as substitute drug dependence therapy was made accessible to all drug dependents. However, by the end of 2017, OMT was available to only 2.69% of all injecting drug users on the outpatient register, contrary to World Health Organisation’s recommendations of at least 20% coverage.

According to Dasha Matyushina-Ocheret, Policy Reform Advisor at EHRA, parallel reports and testimonials at the 62nd Pre-Sessional Working Group of the CESCR should help raise the issues of human rights violations in Estonia and Kazakhstan on the international level so that lives of people who use drugs are improved. “It is especially important that members of the Working Group, as well as Government representatives from Estonia and Kazakhstan, will hear first-hand accounts from community representatives on how their rights are violated,” says Ms. Matyushina-Ocheret.

Established in 1985, CESCR is a UN human rights body consisting of 18 independent experts that monitor implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties, which are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented in their countries. The Committee’s rules allow for international, regional, and national organisations and human rights institutions to submit parallel reports with questions for governments in advance of the dialogue with the states.