The Third National Harm Reduction Conference

4 Mar, 2010

On February 26-27 the Third National Conference on reduction of harm related to injecting drug use was held in the hotel “D-Plaza”.

The Third National Harm Reduction Conference was financed by the “Open Society Georgia Foundation” and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and was organized by the Georgian Harm Reduction Network.

The geographical representation of the participants was broader compared to the previous events. The conference was attended by the field specialists from Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as experts from Lithuania and the United States and by the Open Society Institute Public Health Program Staff.

The participants got familiar with different presentations on Harm Reduction in Georgia, HIV/AIDS prevention and drug treatment programs. The representatives from East Europe and Central Asia shared their experience in prevention of spread of blood borne infections. During the conference the international organizations presented their future plans related to Harm Reduction, HIV/AIDS prevention and drug treatment. Presentations on Harm Reduction programs in prisons and psychosocial rehabilitation programs were also made. The participants discussed the issues related to drug legislation and involvement of vulnerable groups into the process of elaboration of Harm Reduction policy and in Harm Reduction programs implementation.

As a result of a two-day event, the following conclusions were made:

– It is essential to urgently discuss the draft laws packages submitted to the Parliament in order to maximally reduce the risk of       Human Rights violation of drug users;
– The current priorities of the harm reduction programs are the following:a) Elaboration of the strategy and tactics aimed at reducing of harm related to use of home-made stimulants;
b) Establishment of adequate Harm Reduction Programs in Prisons;
c) Elaboration and implementation of the advocacy strategy in order to minimize the risk of lethal outcomes caused by drug overdose;
d) Planning and Implementation of the activities relevant to women-drug users needs;
e) Efforts for achieving the continuum of treatment through introduction of new elements (e.g. psychosocial rehabilitation) in it.
– In order to meet these goals it is extremely important for the Georgian Harm Reduction Network that Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Issues, Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection, Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance and Ministry of Interior express their willingness for collaboration. Therefore the unified platform essential for constructive changes will be created.
– It is important to guarantee the sustainability of the existing services by incorporating them into government structures and/or ensuring their financing from the government side.