Multi-stakeholder dialogue on harm reduction and drug policy in Tbilisi

Multi-stakeholder dialogue on harm reduction and drug policy took place in Tbilisi, Georgia on May 22-23. The dialogue was organized by EHRA in collaboration with GHRN, supported by SoS_2.0. Despite the challenging political situation in country, the event brought together key representatives from local communities, NGOs, medical and social services, as well as national and international agencies and experts. 

“The meeting is happening at a turbulent time for Georgia, where the adoption of restrictive legislation regarding NGOs could adversely affect HIV/AIDS prevention programs,” said Tetiana Deshko, Director of International Programs at the Alliance for Public Health. “The state must make every effort to preserve these programs.”

The purpose of the meeting was to create a platform for discussing important topics such are state funding, innovative harm reduction services, drug policy and human rights. Among discussed topics were Georgia’s integration into the EU and WHO, especially in regards of the quality of services for people who use drugs. A presentation by the Alliance for Public Health on the experience and plans for the introduction of long-acting buprenorphine in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, within the framework of a joint project with Frontline AIDS supported by Unitaid, got particular interest. Among the participants of event, there were also politicians and representatives of civil society organizations.

Mat Southwell, a technical consultant on HIV, drug use, and harm reduction from the UK, conducted a seminar on stimulants for industry professionals.

“These two intense days of dialogue brought a wealth of insights, valuable discussions, and exchange of experiences. Ahead of us lies a long path of advocacy to preserve harm reduction programs in Georgia, ensure uninterrupted provision of services in the HIV field, and protect the rights of vulnerable populations,” noted Maka Gogia, coordinator of SoS 2.0 in Georgia.

The meeting took place within the framework of the regional project “Resilient Services for Key Population in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” (SoS_project), implemented by a consortium of organizations led by the Alliance for Public Health in partnership with NGO “100% Life,” with financial support from the Global Fund.

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