Response stories

Montenegro: Wind of change in healthcare system that brings unexpected moments to the key groups

By the Strategy of Montenegro for the Prevention of Drug Abuse 2013-2020 addiction treatment is conducted within the health care system in the country, and rehabilitation measures aimed at social reintegration and maintaining achieved abstinence are carried out in the social security system. Treatment is planned and implemented in accordance with the needs of each individual and changed, if necessary, in relation to the condition. During the treatment only professionally justified and validated procedures should be used. That means guidelines for the treatment of addiction are necessary, as well as quality standards in relation to treatment introducing in the institutions that provide such services. Also, buprenorphine substitution has not yet been introduced into regular practice in all centers for substitution therapy, as well as changes in healthcare system bring unexpected and not always positive moments to the key groups populations. 

Interrupted treatment… due to the health system

On August, 2022 a user of substitution therapy (OST) contacted REActors with a complaint that his right to health treatment was violated in the way that the distribution of the drug buprenorphine, which was prescribed as a therapy for opioid addiction by a psychiatrist, was interrupted. Due to the changes in the functioning of health system of Montenegro, which is reflected in the abolition of mandatory health insurance and the payment of contributions for the same, as a result of which the Health Fund, as an institution responsible for the procurement of medicines, was left without funds for their purchase, it was difficult to provide many medicines. And so also in this particular case, when there was a cessation of therapy for people using a substitution drug. 

Massive work of REActors

Immediately after receiving the notification from the patient, representatives of NGO CAZAS contacted the competent institutions to check the credibility of the complaints. They tried to react as soon as possible with a press release that was carried by all relevant media and with which they informed the public about the massive violation of the rights of OST patients and called on the authorities to solve the problem as soon as possible. REActors also informed the user who contacted them of his rights, and gave him a copy of the complaint form to the health institution. With this support, the user filled out a complaint, which REActos sent to the health institution.

Thanks to the quick reaction of the members of the organization, sending of press releases and contacting of health institutions, the therapy for OST users continued already the next morning. Complaints submitted to the health services are awaiting a response.

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