The Third Conference on Drug Policy and Implementation of Public Drug Policy Strategy until 2030 was held on November 24-25.
The main conference objectives were a further development and implementation of the Action Plan through the use of the best international practices and most effective approach for its implementation.
The conference facilitated dialogue and experience sharing between the research and professional community, law-enforcement, and political circles of Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, and other countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Representatives of national and non-governmental organizations discussed modern evidence-based approaches to behavioral health, prevention of drug consumption and HIV/viral hepatitis C, treatment, care, and rehabilitation of drug users.
In one of the sessions Oksana Pashchuk, senior manager of REAct project, presented the analysis of cases of violation of rights of people who inject drugs (PWID) in Ukraine. The speaker noted that as of today, 314 reports from IDU were registered in the REAct monitoring and response system, 72% were fully resolved.
Based on the obtained data, in 87% of cases PWID did not seek the protection of their rights in proper institutions, mainly due to lack of awareness and knowledge on how to seek protection (25%), and due to lack of confidence in the positive outcome (19%). However, if the clients did seek protection from the relevant authorities, in most cases their requests were ignored.
Violation of rights most often was on the part of the state (77%), in particular, healthcare workers (144 cases). The most common offenses were verbal insults (79 cases), refusal to provide healthcare (50 cases), and extortion (22 cases).
The speaker also presented recommendations about amending the current legislature in order to improve the situation in the country. For a long while, offenses by police and rehabilitation centers’ staff against PWID are reported and registered in the REAct system. Based on this, Oksana proposed to review and modify the threshold quantities of drugs defined in the tables endorsed in Order of the Ministry of Health # 188 as of 01.08.2000 “On endorsing the tables of small, large and especially large quantities of drugs, psychotropic substances, and precursors in illicit drug trafficking”, as unreasonable small quantities of drugs are used as the cause of prosecution of PWID by police.
As for the operation of rehabilitation centers, Ukraine lacks legislature regulating the provision of their services to people addicted to drugs. This results in violations of the rights of PWID and the absence of control over the operation of such centers. The work of the rehabilitation centers involves healthcare interventions, therefore must be subject to regulation by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine as the authorized public institution.
Oksana highlighted that engagement of the Ministry of Health into this issue is necessary, with further development of the sectoral regulatory framework, based on best international practices and consultations with the civil society.