5h European Harm Reduction Conference, 2021


Eurasian Harm Reduction Association is proud of being an active partner of the conference and invites to the sessions where our organization members will make presentations or be the organizer of the session.

The whole programme of the conference You may find here 

10th of November

Plenary opening session S1

Quo vadis: the development of drug policy and harm reduction embedded
into the broader development of societies in Europe


Keynote speech:
Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA


Moderated discussion – Ricardo Bapiste Leite, Global Parlamentarians Network Unite
Panellists discuss drug policy developments in the European region


European Commission, DG Justice, tbc
Senator Lynn Ruane, Ireland, Global Parliamentarian Network Unite
Jindrich Vobrovil, Institute of Rational Addiction Policies (IRAP)
Iga Kender-Jeziorska, Civil Society Forum on Drugs
Mat Southwell, EuroNPUD

Thomas Kattau, Council of Europe, Pompidou Group
Mariam Jashi, Member of Parliament, Georgia
Massimo Barra, Rome Consensus (Red Cross)
Ganna Dovbakh, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA)
Milutin Milosevic, Drug Policy Network South East Europe (DPNSEE)

Leverage the power of data to advocate for drug policy reform:
the Global Drug Policy Index, Matthew Wall, Head of the Department of Politics, Philosophy and International Relations, Swansea University



For those, who cannot attend the conference in person, we offer free live streaming of selected sessions.


11th of November

Major Session 1 - Drug policy: decriminalisation – the next logical step for Europe?


Organiser: International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)

Chair: Eliza Kurcevič (EHRA)


The criminalisation of people who use drugs (PWUD) compounds drug-related harms and worsens health and welfare outcomes worldwide. However, a growing number of jurisdictions have decriminalised the possession of some or all drugs for personal use, including many pioneering examples from Europe.

When done in line with the evidence and partnership with PWUD, decriminalisation has the potential to improve public health and human rights dramatically. However, when sub-optimal models are created or models prejudice some drugs over others, this potential can be missed, and new problems can emerge.

Decriminalisation policies have always been permitted within international drug conventions. There has also been increased acknowledgement and promotion of this approach in recent years – most recently from a common position for the entire UN system.

In this session, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) invites you to explore the arguments for decriminalisation and some of the complex and challenging questions which remain. Europe can become a global champion for effective, ‘gold standard’ decriminalisation approaches – just as it was for harm reduction adoption decades ago.


Marie Nougier (IDPC)
Rui Miguel Coimbra Morais (CASO Drug Users Union)
Zaved Mahmood (OHCHR)
Tore Sørensen (Norwegian Ministry of Care and Health Services)



For those, who cannot attend the conference in person, we offer free live streaming of selected sessions.


Parallel Session 3 – Girls power in HR2: women leadership to ensure access to Harm Reduction


Organiser: Re Generation, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), Metzineres, ENPUD

Chair: Irena Molnar, RE Generation


Women who use drugs are still frequently overlooked in their access to broad harm reduction meaning health and social care despite the complex harms, stigmatisation and structural violence they face. A substantial increase in gender-sensitive services is necessary to appropriately address their needs . Women who use drugs are often caught up in a vicious cycle of gender-based violence and drug use where the stress and trauma of violence perpetuate the women’s drug use, and the actions and behaviours associated with drug use expose them to heightened risk of violence  which grows tremendously due to COVID-19 restrictions, lack of job and lockdown. The reproductive and health rights, protection of standards of living and parental rights of WWUD are violated .

In response to discrimination, right violation and injustice activists from all over the Europe build the Narcofeminist movement. Narcofeminists support the ideology of FEMINISM, intersectional feminism in particular, which focuses on the intersection of different female identities and tries to look at how women and others, including trans and gender non-conforming people with different experiences face discrimination.

Womxn- lead harm reduction organisations are developing gender sensitive and gender transformative services, all over the broad Europe manage to improve access to health, legal protection and social care services for women who use drugs in case of violence – directly via improving a service of their own or building partnerships and providing capacity building for service providers.

Objective of the session is to promote womxn-lead harm reduction and activism and to provide interactive platform for experience sharing about:
·       Barriers for women to access harm reduction and ways to overcome it in different subregions of the Europe
·       Ways to counteract gender based violence toward women using drugs in the context of COVID-19
·       Gender sensitive women-lead harm reduction approaches
·       Narcofeminism and womxn activistm – building movement and finding allies among human rights and feminist movements

During the panel artist from the Metzineres team will be doing a graffiti or editing the animated movie, with the new ideas that could come from the panel



 ·       Why women-led initiatives and services are needed and How do they work? Aura Roig, Metzineres
·       Help impossible to ignore: basis needs and barriers in access to health and social care services and shelters in case of violence for women using drugs in the EECA region, EHRA
·       Sexism Free Night – project involving nightlife promotes, NGOs and academia – promoting safer and more egalitarian nightlife enviroments for all, Irena Molnar, RE Generation
·       Self-care and saftey protocols, supervision and mutual support for Narcofeminist leaders: mental health during Covid-19, Olga Belyaeva, ENPUD with participation from Alla Bessonova
·       Overcoming stigmatisation of women using drugs in media and social care programmes in Ukraine, Halyna Kornienko, All-Ukrainian union of women using drugs VONA

Mothers who use drugs: stigmatised and parenting, Alexandra Gurinova, Deutsche Aids Hilfe

Panel discussion

Parallel Session 4 – Monitoring and quality standards for harm reduction



Chair: Dagmar Hedrich, consulent
Katrin Schiffer, C-EHRN


Importance of civil society monitoring and Quality Standards for policymaking and advocacy


Quality Standards (QS) are crucial to improving harm reduction services’ quality and bridging the gap between science and practice. However, the extent and ways in which QS for harm reduction are known, implemented in daily practices, and monitored, varies substantially.
This session aims to introduce the different quality standards available for Harm Reduction in Europe and discuss the state or art of its implementation and monitoring, focusing on a civil society perspective. Some of the questions that we aim to debate are what types of QS are needed and valuable for the Harm Reduction field and how can we strengthen its monitoring and implementation in Europe.


Wouter Vanderplasschen (Gent University)
Dijana Jerkovic (Gent University, FENIQS)
Ganna Dovbakh (EHRA)
Matej Kosir (UTRIP)
Rafaela Rigoni (C-EHRN)
Peter Sarosi (CSFD)

Parallel Session 8 – NPS and mental health: humbug or an alarming situation?


Organiser: Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA)
Chair: Ganna Dovbakh, EHRA

NPS and mental health issues: humbug or an alarming situation? The EECA example.

In recent years, the growing use of new psychoactive substances has exacerbated the threats to the health of people who use drugs. These threats include overdoses, more risky drug use practices (such as frequent injections, sharing drug use equipment, etc.), the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases, and mental health issues.

Research conducted with people who use new psychoactive substances in 8 Eastern Europe and Central Asia region countries showed that one of the most common consequences among people who use new psychoactive substances is mental health issues. These include paranoia, aggression, psychosis, panic attacks, parasuicide and other mental health issues. The research respondents stated that mental health issues were rarely a case while using ‘traditional’ drugs. However, it has become an alarming issue in the last few years, especially with the use of synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones.

Even though sometimes mental health issues can occur due to drug use, it does not mean that this is the only and primary factor that can cause mental health issues.

This session aims to exchange views and discuss how to accurately respond to mental health issues among people who use new psychoactive substances without harmful consequences to the community, in the context of the current social, political, and economic situation in countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The objectives are:

  • to present findings of the studies on new psychoactive substance use in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, focusing on mental health issues;
  • to present views and insights of practitioners working with people who use new psychoactive substances and mental health;
  • to discuss the possible interconnection between drug use and mental health issues;
  • to discuss whether some of the mental health interventions should be included in the harm reduction package; and
  • to propose public health responses and interventions for people who use new psychoactive substances.


  • Introduction, Ganna Dovbakh, EHRA
  • Basic Needs and Barriers in Access to HIV Related Medical and Social Services for People Who Use NPS/Stimulants in Moldova and Ukraine: focus on mental health, Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, (UNODC)
  • Use of NPS in EECA region: threat to public health or temporary trend? Eliza Kurcevic, EHRA
  • Statement on people who use drugs and mental health, Mauro Guarinieri, INPUD
  • Possible public health responses and interventions for people who use NPS. Do we need to include mental health within harm reduction package? Antons Mozalevskis, WHO Europe

Panel discussion on possible harm reduction and public health response to mental health issues among people using drugs, specifically among those who use NPS

Parallel Session 10 – Objects or subjects? Youth in drug policy and harm reduction services


Organiser: YODA
Iga Jeziorska, YODA

Objects or subjects? Youth in drug policy and harm reduction services

‘A Better Tomorrow for the Worlds’ Youth’ was the title of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drug policy.
Was it just a slogan?

Protecting children and youth is often a crucial argument of policymakers to adopt and implement harsh drug regulations. However, on the other hand, young people are hardly involved in a meaningful way in the policymaking processes on local, national, and international levels. Even more importantly, in many countries, the youth is one of the key vulnerable populations with limited access to various services, especially harm reduction.

This session will address the controversies mentioned above in several European countries. The participants will discuss various dimensions of the youth access to harm reduction, from legal barriers and public policy to media narrative and public opinion. Focusing on the differences between Western and East-Central European political systems, economic development and culture, and engaging the audience in a discussion, we will try to find some answers regarding the determinants of youth access to harm reduction in various regions in Europe.



Eliza Kurcevič (EHRA)
Teodora Jovanovic (ReGeneration)
Beatrix Vas, (Youth RISE)

Major Session 7 - Monitoring and implementation of Quality Standards in Harm Reduction in CEECA


Organiser: Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA)
Chair: Masha Plotko, EHRA


Monitoring and implementation of Quality Standards in Harm Reduction – state of art, challenges and the way forward

During the transition from the Global Fund to state funding harm reduction (HR) due to harm reduction being accepted only as HIV prevention, medical and not social service, the governments tend to support only the medical part of the program. As a result, available packages and quality of harm reduction services while transitioning are decreasing even if services are supported. Indicators accessing the efficiency of HR programs in the CEECA region are usually numeric (for example, number of clients, number of people tested, number of syringes/condoms distributed) and lack qualitative data. Accessibility, client satisfaction with the program, and the influence on the client’s life (quality of life, reintegration into society) are not part of the evaluation.

Session objectives:

  • approaches and place of community-led monitoring in ensuring access to and quality of programs;
  • sufficient funding and calculation of the unit cost based on peoples‘ needs
  • basic quality criteria and comprehensiveness of packages of harm reduction services


Pre-recorded presentations for the session:

We suggest all session participants to watch video presentations in advance to have a live discussion during the session.

  • Harm reduction during transition: changes in packages, unit costs and quality of services (Maria Plotko, EHRA)
  • Challenges of transitioning – Is Ukraine could be considered as a good example for the region? (Evgenia Kuvshinova, Ukraine) – Balkan countries: how harm reduction transited to state funding and what needs to be done next? (Irena Molnar, Serbia)
  • Community led monitoring in EECA and lessons learned (Vitalij Rabinchuk, Moldova)
  • Harm reduction where Global Fund has never been (Magdalena Bartnik, Poland)
  • Flexible harm reduction (Machteld Busz, Netherlands)
  • Role of clients and civil society in harm reduction development (Marine Gaubert, France)

Facilitated discussion with panellists 

Question 1: What is the ultimate goal of harm reduction based on quality standards (QS), IDUIT and other international recommendations: HIV or HCV response? Health and wellbeing of people using drugs? Human rights protection? Social justice?

Question 2: Who defines the actual available package of harm reduction services, and what does it depend on?

  • National standards and unit costs or quality standards
  • Needs
  • Available resources
  • Our niche or partnership with other services
  • Capacities of staff
  • What could harm reductionists do to make a package of services comprehensive?

Question 3: Role of community and civil society in monitoring and advocating for the quality of harm reduction services?


Machteld Busz, Netherlands
Irena Molnar, Serbia
Vitalij Rabinchuk, Moldova
Magdalena Bartnik, Poland
Marine Gaubert, France