LEt’s Talk about drugs: Assessment of drug education in Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Serbia

In June-July 2020 Rights Reporter Foundation, YODA, Re Generation, Young Wave and Center for Humane Policy conducted an assessment of drug education in Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Serbia based on the methodology developed by EHRA within the LEt’s Talk about drugs – new MEthods of communication with youth – LET ME project funded by the European Commission (ERASMUS+ program). The goal of the study was to assess existing drug education and its effectiveness, look at what information on drugs is available and how it is perceived by young people, examine the methods and tools used by different actors to talk about drugs with youth, and gather best practices.

click on the picture to read the report

Harm Reduction in Eurasia 2020 published in Russian

November 27, 2020, Vilnius

The Eurasian chapter of the Global State of Harm Reduction 2020 was presented and published today in Russian language.

This is the seventh edition of the Global State of Harm Reduction Report 2020, prepared by the Harm Reduction International, now in the year when public health took a leading position in the world news. COVID-19 and response measures introduced around the world continue to disrupt our lives. The report provides the most up-to-date information on existing programs, the situation with HIV, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis among people who use drugs, as well as analysis of harm reduction programs in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic. The parts of the report describing the situation in the Central, Eastern Europe and Central Asia region were gathered and summarized by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA).

A short summary of the report is presented to the public during an online discussion today. In total, the region is home to approximately 3 million people who inject drugs, 66% of whom are living in Russia and 77% in Russia and Ukraine together.

Syringe exchange programs operate in 27 of the 29 countries in the region, except Turkmenistan and Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the programs experience problems in many countries, particularly with sustainable funding, especially in transitioning from donor to domestic funding sources. The report shows challenges in unit cost, scope and quality of harm reduction services over the past two years.

Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) programs are implemented in 26 of the 29 countries in the region, except Russia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Unfortunately, we can state that most people who use drugs in the region live in countries where OAT programs are prohibited. In the transition of OAT programs from donor support to domestic funding, the biggest challenges are the availability and coverage, quality, and sustainability of program funding.

The key problem areas for harm reduction implementation in the CEECA region are as follows:

  • Criminalization
  • Decrease in funding
  • Lack of political support
  • Pressure on civil society

As a result, we see low coverage of harm reduction services and poor quality of programs.

The report provides detailed information on the situation with HIV, TB, hepatitis, and COVID-19 response programs for people who use drugs in the CEECA region. It provides an analysis of the programs, as well as challenges in accessing services.

The report provides an opportunity to learn about innovative harm reduction practices being implemented in the countries of the region. Substitution therapy for amphetamine users, kits for smoking and oral use, drug checking, safe consumption rooms, harm reduction for women who use drugs and for new psychoactive substance users, as well as for those who use drugs in Chemsex practices (LGBTQI, sex workers) are all being actively implemented in the region by the community- and harm reduction organizations.

EHRA sincerely thanks its colleagues who helped us prepare this report through individual interviews and verification of data from countries and the region.

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Apply for our new ONLINE TRAINING: “Access to comprehensive care for women who use drugs in case of violence”

Aim of the training

The project of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) “Access to comprehensive care for women who use drugs in case of violence” aims to improve access to services for women who use drugs and experience violation of rights, gender-based violence/ intimate partner violence (further – violence). Often, harm reduction services may not be sufficient. Women may need temporary housing, psychosocial, and possibly psychiatric support, legal advice. The COVID-19 epidemic has exacerbated the need for these services.

The aim of the training is to assist harm reduction programs to respond to the needs of women who use drugs experiencing violence – to identify the needs of the women and respective response, identify cases where partnerships with other service providers are required, possible barriers for cooperation and opportunities to overcome them.

Representatives of organizations providing services to women who use drugs are invited to the training, including harm reduction organizations and service providers of psychosocial support for women experiencing violence.

Training program

The main components and topics of the training:

  • Review of existing international recommendations on provision of psychosocial and legal support in cases of gender-based violence, including for women who use drugs;
  • Analysis of specific needs of women who use drugs in case of violence;
  • Major barriers to access services for women who use drugs in case of violence and how they can be addressed;
  • The role and function of harm reduction and psychosocial support programs for women experiencing violence in supporting women who use drugs in case of violence;
  • Discussion of specific practices of providing support to women who use drugs in partnership with shelters[1], psychosocial and legal service providers.

The program will be prepared jointly with a hired consultant to conduct the training, as well as in consultation with international experts and service providers in the EECA region.

When: the training will be held online in the period from 7th to 18th December 2020. The total duration of the training is 2 days. It is likely that separate sessions will be held over the two weeks, since long online events are difficult to endure. The exact dates and duration of the sessions will be announced after agreement with the consultant.

Registration: if you are interested in the training, please fill out the form following this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T3DFY2F by December 4, 2020. Only registered participants will receive a link to enter the online training. For questions related to registration for the training, please contact: m.sketre@harmreductioneurasia.org.

Where: ZOOM platform. All registered participants will receive a link to the email address indicated in the registration form before the training.

Language: Russian with translation into English.

The training is organized by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association within the framework of the project “Access to comprehensive care for women who use drugs in case of violence”. The project is implemented by the EHRA Secretariat within the funding through the COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM) of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria received in addition to the Multicountry project “Sustainability of services for key populations in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region” (aka # SoS_project), carried out with the Public Health Alliance in 14 countries of the CEECA region.

[1] By the word “Shelter” EHRA means any institution that can serve as a temporary shelter for a woman who uses drugs in case of violence – crisis center, rehabilitation – depending on the situation in a particular area/ city.

European Harm Reduction sessions

Together with Correlation European Harm Reduction Network we recently organized Harm Reduction Sessions, which were initiated to replace the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference. 

Session 1 – What can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Session 2 – Launch of the Special Edition of the Harm Reduction Journal

EHRA, as the co-organizer of the event, presented its decriminalization session, which was available in English and Russian. 

Session 3: Different approaches for decriminalization – what works?

Many countries started slowly to adopt alternatives to punishment, abolishing criminal sanctions for use and possession of psychoactive substances and replacing them with administrative measures, such as fine, compulsory or voluntary treatment, and other social interventions. However, not in all cases, these alternatives brought positive outcomes for people who use psychoactive substances and society at large.
Thus, we need to review new approaches or update old ones, to ensure that measures adopted by the state are proportionate and in line with human rights.
 
In this session, we discussed 5 different approaches to decriminalization, which are applied in 5 countries and their impact on the lives of people who use psychoactive substances and society, namely the cases where:
1) there are no consequences for the possession of drugs;
2) police confiscate drugs but take no further actions;
3) person is mandatory referred to health services for evaluation and receives no criminal arrest or conviction;
4) administrative liability is applied (i.e. fine);
5) person receives a criminal conviction but does not serve time in prison (may be required to complete community service and pay fine).
 
Moderator: Jamie Bridge, International Drug Policy Consortium
 
Speakers and their presentations:
🔸 Pavel Bem, Global Commission on Drug Policy
🔸 Machteld Busz, Mainline, the Netherlands
🔸 Alexandra Gurinova, Deutsche Aidshilfe, Germany
🔸 Mart Kalvet, Estonian Association of people using psychotropic substances LUNEST, Estonia
🔸 Erkinbek Iriskulbekov, Lawyer, Kyrgyzstan
🔸 Eliza Kurcevič, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, Lithuania
🔸 Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Extended: Apply for our new online course: “Sustainability and Survival: Resilience for civil society organisations working with key populations in the CEECA region”

We kindly invite you to apply for the online course: “Sustainability and Survival: Resilience for civil society organisations working with key populations in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia”.

This collaborative and interactive skills development course is specifically designed for non-profit, civil society and community-based organizations from countries of the CECCA region, that advocate and/or provide direct services for key populations.  The course will help you, as a CSO or CBO working with key populations, to acquire skills and confidence for organisational resilience and a more diversified and sustainable funding model. By the end of this course, we expect you to be better equipped  the challenges of the current and future evolving funding environment.

Specifically we will be supporting you to:

  • Strengthen the effectiveness and resilience of your organisation;
  • Develop a strategy and plan for sustainability and pilot specific income generation approaches;
  • Ensure that your income generation streams and targets are aligned with organisational strategy, and respond to the current funding environment that you are facing;
  • Compare the characteristics of a range of new income sources and analyse their potential fit for your organisation (e.g. crowdfunding, social enterprise, membership models, social contracting);
  • Practice facilitating creative approaches to income generation with your colleagues.

The course offers the chance to join three 3-hour live and interactive online training workshops, to view a series of 1-hour webinars in your own time, and to undertake exercises to embed the learning between events. You will also have a mentor, who will be able to support you to practice and implement the learning, through a project of your choosing. The course will be delivered in English and Russian language.  Certificates will be issued to those that complete the course.

The course will be run by a consultancy team of four course facilitators and trainers:  Anya Sarang, Dermott McDonald, Rachel Haynes, and Victoria Ireland.

More details about the course can be found HERE.

If you would like to participate, please complete this online survey by October 11. We will be letting you know if you have a place by October 14, 2020.

Who can apply? The programme is open to officially registered civil society / community-based organizations working with or for key communities (people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, LGBTQI+, sex workers) or people living with HIV, operating in one of 29 CEECA countries.

Participants must be employees of these organisations, that have been involved in one or more income generation activities of the organization. You must be able to commit 35 hours to the course during October and November and must be able to speak and write in Russian or English.

PLEASE NOTE: Participation in the course is free. The number of seats is limited to 20 participants, ideally 2 people from each organization. The selection of participants will be on competitive bases, based on the quality of completed applications. Filling out the online survey does not guarantee participation in the course. We will inform you about enrolment in the group by October 14, 2020.

The course is delivered in the framework of the Eurasian Regional Consortium project “Thinking outside the box: overcoming challenges in community advocacy for sustainable and high-quality HIV services”, funded by the Robert Carr Fund for civil society networks

Extended: EHRA is looking for a team for websites maintenance and support

BACKGROUND

Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is a non-for-profit public membership-based organisation, registered by the initiative of harm reduction activists and organisations from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) in 2017.

Currently EHRA is hosting www.harmreductioneurasia.org, www.eecaplatform.org, www.chasevirus.org, www.drugeducationyouth.org internet portals as knowledge and networking tools for its members, donors and partners.

The portals provide access to resources, strategies and policies, case studies, information about events, tenders and opportunities to inform members, donors, consultants, researchers and other stakeholders in the fields of harm reduction, drug education and human rights at regional level.

This assignment is for a contractor to provide expert technical maintenance and support for websites and to develop and implement technical solutions that improve the user friendliness and ability to respond to its audience’s needs on an ongoing basis for one year from October 2020.

A team consisting of four full-time staff is managing web portals by updating the site with content, and ensuring the structures meet the audience needs. The contractor will provide maintenance and support services for websites (based on WordPress open source software) and also develop and implement new features. The services sought are indicated in these terms of reference. The contractor will be expected to be flexible and responsive to the web portals support services requested as well as provide innovative ideas and recommendations to ensure that the portals are considered to be user friendly.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

Overall, the contractor is required to:

  • Ensure implementation, troubleshooting, and maintenance support for the existing websites; and to collaborate with the team, serve as a resource for problem analysis and solution.
  • Provide more effective development and design for the functionality of the websites.
  • Provide technical and creative expertise to create, manage, and update the websites.
  1. SITE HOSTING & ADMINISTRATION
  • Assure a reliable hosting environment and a stable functioning of the websites.
  • Backups – in case of a serious incident, the restoration of the website from the most recent backup needs to be assured.
  • Security – manage all aspects of website security to protect confidential member information and existing content (data, project information, contact details, etc.), and prevent hacks, defacing, etc.
  1. REGULAR TECHNICAL SITE & CODE MAINTENANCE
  • Assure the WordPress Website Maintenance.
  • Install Software, module/Security patches and upgrades including bug fixes.
  • Install, upgrade or modify existing modules on sites.
  • Develop, update and maintain the sites.
  1. ONGOING WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT (IMPROVEMENT OF SITE FUNCTIONALITIES)
  • Analyse the existing website functionalities.
  • Maintain ongoing development on existing sites and add new features where needed.
  • Manage, update and improve site navigation and information architecture.
  • Manage web design; enhancements to the sites’ look and feel on an ongoing basis.
  1. SPECIFIC FEATURES
  • Development, design and implementation of new specific features on the websites based on requests from the team. These will occur on demand;
  • Advise on alternative platforms to ensure maximum performance of the tools and content needed on specific website.
  1. MANAGEMENT ARRANGEMENTS

The assignment will be managed by the EHRA team. All options and recommendations for improving the website will be agreed through the team, which will directly collaborate with the contractor on different sections of the websites.

  1. QUALIFICATIONS

The contractor is required to have:

  • extensive knowledge and experience of website development and management by making use of innovative technologies and applications;
  • specific and in-depth expertise in the WordPress content management system;
  • experience with other platforms (Drupal, Joomla and other CMS platforms);
  • excellent communication skills and the capacity to be responsive to changing needs and requirements as communicated by EHRA team.

The service provider is expected to describe its understanding of the objectives of the project and the Scope of Work.

  1. PROPOSED METHODOLOGY / APPROACH
  • A clearly quantified proposal on the various benefits shall be outlined by the service provider as well as the cost implications which shall include the administration costs.
  • A capacity statement, stating the service provider’s capacity, qualifications and experience in delivering the abovementioned services;
  • Detailed description of work experience with traceable references (work examples with contacts for references);
  • Hourly rates (VAT inclusive)

CLOSING DATE

All proposals must be submitted by e-mail referenced under title “IT TEAM” to Alina Storozhuk at alina@harmreductioneurasia.org by 9 October, 2020, 24:00 EET.

EVALUATION

After the closing date of the bid invitation, an appointed evaluation committee of EHRA staff will evaluate the proposals of the bidders. The committee will individually evaluate each of the bid proposals received. The evaluation will be made based on:

  • Experience – maximum score 50 points
  • Price – maximum score 50 points

The contract will be awarded to 1 applicant with the highest score.

GENERAL CONDITIONS

The following should be noted by interested parties:

  • Intellectual property and ownership of all products developed in the execution of the contract will be vested in EHRA and any and all service providers will sign those rights to EHRA.
  • Products may not be made available to any unauthorised person or institution or sold for profit without prior written consent from EHRA.
  • On completion or termination of the agreement, all products must be handed over to EHRA.
  • No information concerning the tender or award of the tender may be made available by the Bidder to other parties without prior consultation and written approval from EHRA.
  • The successful bidder will be required to be bound by confidentiality.

The time period for this assignment will be 1 year, starting from October 2020 with an option for renewal for another 6 months.

MANAGEMENT REPORTING AND ASSIGNMENT ENQUIRIES


All enquiries related to the objectives and scope of this assignment should be directed to:

Alina Storozhuk
Eurasian Harm Reduction Association
Senior Communications and Campaign Officer
Tel: +37069256431
Email: alina@harmreductioneurasia.org

EHRA is looking for Finance and Grants Officer

International non-profit organization, working in the sphere of advocacy, human rights, realization of socially important projects invites a financial specialist to join its team.

For more information about EHRA and the main programs being implemented by EHRA, please, follow the following links:  https://harmreductioneurasia.org/about-us/

Working conditions:

Distance work using own facilities: computer, stable access to the Internet.

Consultancy agreement without social insurance for one year starting from October 2020. 

Ability to come to the EHRA’s office in Vilnius (Lithuania) at least twice a year. EHRA will cover flight and accommodation during visit.

General requirements and experience:

  • Understanding the legal, regulatory documents, the requirements of donor organizations.
  • Work with large volumes of information.
  • Excellent problem-solving and time management skills and ability to prioritize/multi-task;

EHRA expects qualified candidates to have the following skills and experience:

  • University/college degree (e.g. in finance/accounting or relevant fields);
  • At least 3 years of professional experience in finance.
  • At least 1 year of experience in working with grant agreement, donation and international donor‘s organizations; ( GFATM, RCF, UNAIDS, EJAF, etc.)
  • Preferred experience in working with non-profit/NGO sector, donation and international donor‘s organizations;
  • Preferred experience in the preparation of different types of contracts (grant, service, etc.)

Excellent command of Russian (oral and written), good English (written). Languages of communication with partners: Russian and English.

Personal qualities:

  • Optimism, tolerance to cultural differences.
  • Ability to work under pressure.
  • Communication skills.

Full description of position requirements can be found here

 Compensation:  Gross salary is 1100 USD include all taxes.

 Interested candidates should provide:

  • updated CV outlining specific relevant experience and two references.
  • a short cover letter indicating suitability for the position.

 Documents should be sent to: info@harmreductioneurasia.org until September 27, 2020.

 Interviews will be done on a rolling basis.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

“Support. Don’t punish” campaign results

On June 26, 2020 a number of events were held within the framework of the global campaign “Support. Don’t Punish” in the countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region with the support of the Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD), the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the International Consortium on Drug Policy (IDPC) and other networks and organizations, as well as with personal support of the activists and initiative groups. The COVID-19 pandemic made its adjustments to the campaign. However, the restrictive measures did not stop the activists, and they managed to hold the activities and events albeit in a changed format.

 

The campaign declares that health care and human rights must be installed in the core of drug policy. Activists took to the streets to publicly protest cruel and senseless government policies aimed at people who use drugs. Every year this campaign is held all over the world with the purpose of drawing attention to this unsolved problem over and over again!

 

June 26 is also the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Such a discriminatory and repressive name for this day was invented at the UN. Of course this is not surprising, taking into account the roles played by the United Nations in the never-ending “war on drugs” around the world, and in cowardly disregard or support by various structures and agencies of this organization of the methods of repressive drug policies of many countries around the world.

You can learn more about repressive drug policies and campaigns in Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Germany in the report. 

The report was prepared by Alexander Levin, Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs. link

Purple International Children's Book Day_School Poster, копія, копія
Click on picture to open report

How to exhibit about harm reduction at music festival

Harm reduction at music festivals – it is not a new practice for Europe. However, here, in CEECA region, we are just making first steps towards implementation of such practices in condition of criminalization of drug possession and distribution. This year at one of the small festivals in Lithuania, our team joined the initiative and now we are ready to share a few impressions. “Say know” instead of “say no” to drugs was our motto during the YAGA festival, which took place on August 6-10 in Lithuania.

The participants of the festival, regardless of whether they use psychoactive substances or not, were very interested in any information on how to protect themselves and others in different situations related to the consumption and different sexual practices.  What do we need to know to reduce the risk or harm from substance use?

– You need to know what you use. With legal substances, the quality of the product has been tested and licensed by the government. In the case of illegal substances, you can not trust what drug dealers say. Drug testing is a key approach to harm reduction. It would be ideal to analyze the content of different substances in a drug, but so far only a couple of countries in Europe have offered such testing . In the context of the festival, it is possible to carry out reagent tests, when a person can test by himself or herself whether the substance declared by the seller is in a tablet or powder, some tests also make it possible to determine the purity of the substance. After taking several tests, a person will be able to find out if there are any other substances in the tablets.

– You need to know the health risks and consequences of using psychoactive substances in different ways and know remember reduction measures to prevent the risks. EHRA team at the exhibition of harm reduction tools showed visitors what items can help to reduce the health risks of smoking, oral, injected, or rectal use.

– You need to know how to prevent overdose or how to make human life safer in the event of an overdose. And while the use of naloxone is recommended for opioid drugs, there are no such simple overdose prevention methods for stimulants.  

What is important is that the team has agreed in advance with the festival organizers, local authorities, the police, and medical services on all harm reduction activities. Any talk about drugs, peer counseling, or a seminar on drugs initially frightens the organizers, as if the conversation itself was propaganda for use. In Lithuania, the Be safe lab project has been running for several years now at the most popular music festivals, in cooperation with the Drug, Tobacco, and alcohol control department and the Coalition “I can live”. Thanks to this project, festival participants have access to information about the harm caused by different substances, especially if they are mixed, and have an opportunity to receive professional medical (psychological and drug treatment) assistance in case of problems. Such partnership facilitated our activity at the festival.

Information about the safe combination of drugs, harm reduction measures for different ways of use, reducing the risk of overdose, and assistance with the unpleasant consequences of drug use (what is called a bad trip, when psychosis, paranoid conditions, etc.) – these topics mostly were in demand among festival participants. It was important that professional help and support in case of problems related to the use of this drug was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right at the festival. Our partners from Demetra during the festival provided the opportunity for those wishing to be tested for HIV, as well as free consultations on safe sex and receive condoms and lubricants.

One of popular spots in the festival camp was EHRA’s equipment exhibition “HARM REDUCTION TOOLS”. The wooden stand demonstrated different examples of the tools used to reduce harm was placed with short explanation – for what drug is it used and what health harm it could prevent. Different drug use equipment like smoking kits, snorting kits, booty bumping, tools for oral administration of drugs, injecting equipment, reagents for the drug checking were presented. 

In total, around 15-20 different tools from traditional needles and syringes, condoms and lubricants to overdose preventing medication such as nasal naloxone, other tools of safety such as tests for drug checking and gelatine capsules. During several hours per day one of the EHRA volunteers guided festival participants on what was presented on the stand as well as provided with additional explanation on harm reduction approaches and tools used all around the globe and in Lithuania.

The idea with harm reduction exhibition worked out well, a lot of people came to the stand, listened to the "lecturer", asked questions and took reagent tests and gelatine capsules. People said that they feel "enlightened" and that this project is very useful and important. Our colleagues from Demetra and Be Safe Lab also learned a lot and proposed to repeat this exhibition at future events.
Maria Plotko
Senior Program Officer, exhibition co-creator

Also this year EHRA team organized a seminar “Sex, Drugs and Harm Reduction” to tell festival visitors more about harm reduction, safe use of psychoactive substances and about protection in “chemsex”.

The last but, not least initiative was the distribution of reagent tests for those who wanted to check psychoactive substances. This action was important in term of local approach to the harm reduction as in Lithuania on-site drug checking is not allowed (criminalized).

Despite the late hour quite big group of people came to the workshop on Sex, Drugs and Harm reduction there was a problem with loud music and no lightning but people stayed anyway, surprisingly asked a lot of questions about naloxone
Maria Plotko
Senior Program Officer, exhibition co-creator

Harm reduction during music festivals and events, introduction of harm reduction tools for non-injection use into harm reduction programs, integration of substance testing in CEECA countries – all these tasks are faced by EHRA in advocacy. Based on the practical experience of consulting during the festival, the team will act more effectively in future activities.

It was a pleasure for the EHRA team and for me personally to hear from young people from around the world, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland that our exhibition of harm reduction tools was useful. Many people, while looking at simple tools, immediately discussed how and where to buy gelatin capsules or substance tests. Health and safety are very important to everyone we talked to, and harm reduction programs are an opportunity to know and understand more about your safety and well-being. It is a pity that harm reduction organizations in the Eurasia region rarely have the full range of resources to help people who use drugs. Sometimes there is nothing else but a simple syringe, condom, and HIV information material. But the topic of quality and range of harm reduction services in our region is definitely much broader than our visit to one music festival with an exhibition and seminar.
Ganna Dovbakh
EHRA Executive Director