March 15, 2021

Abandoning the repressive drug policies will allow saving the total of €12.34 billion in 4 EECA countries and curbing the HIV/AIDS epidemic

The Economist Intelligence Unit and the Alliance for Public Health presented a report based on the study “Drug Policies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: the Economic, Health and Social Impact” in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. It is the first such study in the region, where researchers analyzed a number of possible scenarios and were able to get impressive findings.

The study points out that reinvesting the total amount of €12.34 bln saved from decriminalizing drug use in the four study countries (Belarus – 431 mln, Kazakhstan – 773 mln, Kyrgyzstan – 38 mln, Russia – 11.1 bln) into scaling up antiretroviral therapy and opioid agonist treatment programs could help to effectively curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 20 years for no added cost.

(Infographic source: The Economist)

It would, in its turn, make a significant impact on the control over the epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) in general, with the following forecasted rates of averted HIV infections: Belarus – 64%, Kazakhstan – 84%, Kyrgyzstan – 69%, Russia – 58%. The study findings are very timely, and the recommendations offered make the case for using such new approaches as the UNAIDS 2020 targets within the 90-90-90 strategy have not been achieved yet in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or Russia. “The previous UNAIDS target to halve HIV among PWID by 2015 was missed by a huge 80%. Continuing on this trajectory will mean also missing the more ambitious target to end AIDS by 2030,” states the report.

The study results clearly show the need to revise the drug policy approaches in the focus countries, but the progress in this direction remains slow, said Dr. Chrissy Bishop, Senior Analyst for Health Policy and Clinical Evidence at the Economist Intelligence Unit. In this context it is important to point out the cost effectiveness of decriminalization approaches. Putting people who inject drugs in jails not only costs a lot to the national budgets, but also leads to the increasing number of new HIV cases.

The report also underlines that because of competing needs, public health interventions for HIV have been low on policymakers’ priority lists, with the allocation of domestic funds to scaling-up HIV prevention programs falling short of demand. Authors of the study think that the national governments should reconsider their approaches because criminalizing the lifestyle of PWID does not make sense as those people are drug dependent and need medical and social support.

“What is striking about these findings is that the savings can be achieved and the HIV infections can be averted in the countries following a shift in resources from criminalization to ART and harm reduction,” underlined Dr. Bishop.

“This report has a tremendous potential to be the basis of our future efforts and it is crucial that the Global Fund is ready to support them.  For the EECA countries it is very significant and can serve as a strong incentive to work even more to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic, using all the possible arguments to advocate for the elimination of repressive drug policies,” pointed out Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health.

Decriminalization of drug use saves resources and allows people to live longer lives

Today, Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only region in the world with catastrophic dynamics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic growth. Thus, since 2010 the number of new HIV cases grew by 72%, while mortality increased by 24%. PWID account for 48% of the new HIV cases in the region. According to 2017 data, only in Russia there are 1,881 mln of people who use drugs.

Drug policies in the EECA countries are quite similar and are first of all characterized with prevailing punitive measures, while public health measures aimed at prevention, rehabilitation, treatment and access to the controlled use of drugs still have lower priority for the national governments.

The main victims of such an approach are PWUD, who first of all are people with a chronic illness who need medical and social support. Instead, PWUD become hostage to the existing approach as the key efforts of the law enforcement agencies are aimed at them and not at the organized drug dealers staying in the shadow.

Authors of the study show that decriminalization and reinvestment of the saved resources in the health sector to support harm reduction programs will lead to the total life years gained by PWID from 17.8 thousand to 2.6 mln in the study countries.

It should be noted that one of the key recommendations presented in the report is addressing stigma and discrimination. “Stigma and discriminatory attitudes towards vulnerable populations need to be stopped. Stigma-reducing workshops which educate the health and law enforcement sector on HIV prevention is a simple yet scarce solution in EECA. The importance of counselling, supporting positive mental health, addressing homelessness, preventing overdose and providing access to sexual and reproductive health services should be central to these educative workshops. Long term solutions require consistent and robust data collection on violence, discrimination and stigma, alongside actively using tools of influence such as shadow and alternative reporting to UN human rights treaty bodies”, states the report.

Catalyzing change

During the online presentation of the study results, international experts, law enforcers, researchers, CSO representatives and health professionals from the focus countries shared their comments. Participants from 20 countries of the world watched the online discussion live.

When discussing the study report, speakers agreed that the presented findings are striking and can be used to advocate for the elimination of repressive approaches in drug policies of the EECA countries. However, they pointed out that rapid change should not be expected.

Michel Kazatchkine, member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, when commenting on the report, assured that this document with an economic justification of the alternative approaches to drug policies can be used by the UN agencies and national CSOs to advocate for change in the countries.  The report clearly shows how modelling can be a significant supportive tool to plan and develop government policies in the long-term perspective. Results of the modeling studies are part of the evidence base, and this is an important consideration both for individual countries and for the region as a whole. Professor Kazatchkine underlined that it is very important that the future policies should be based on cost effectiveness and human rights, especially in Russia, where there is a very strong political and ideologic opposition to transition to safer approaches to HIV prevention in PWID using opioid agonist therapy.

It should be noted that “as OAT is not available in Russia, scaling up needle and syringe programs (NSP) is an alternative solution which would be cheaper than scaling up OAT and ART. It would cost on average €46.5m per year to get 60% coverage of PWID and avert around 14,000 HIV infections per year. What is striking about these findings are the savings and HIV infections averted following such a simple shift in resources from criminalization to harm reduction approaches, something governments cannot ignore,” states the report.

Aleksander Kwasniewski, member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, gave the example of Switzerland. In the early 1990s, the country had the highest HIV prevalence among PWID, similar to what is happening in the EECA region today. The number of people injecting drugs was growing, they were marginalized by society and harassed by police. Despite having sufficient financial means, the Swiss government decided then to stop using repressive methods, but to initiate a massive scale up of harm reduction services. A large spectrum of treatment and support options was offered to people who use drugs, from rehabilitation to lifetime maintenance, to address the transmission of HIV and other infections. The results were rapid and astonishing. The HIV rate among people who inject drugs fell from 30% in 1993 to under 2% in 2009, while the number of overdoses decreased by 62%. The challenging situation that Switzerland had 20-30 years ago is now repeated in the EECA region, and we can address those challenges in a similar way, by revising the repressive drug policies and reinvesting resources in HIV treatment and harm reduction programs.

According to Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, study on the EECA drug policies can really catalyze the change. Mr. Sands underlined that now it is a very important time to be talking about the HIV epidemic, especially while the top topics for discussion is still COVID-19 and vaccines. Those are the realities that the world is facing. However, it is crucial to speak about the effective measures to fight HIV/AIDS for people to remember that there are other health crises and that actually COVID-19 is making them much worse. We need to get people to think differently. “We can’t afford to do things, which were ineffective or served as barriers to making progress, now is the time to say – that didn’t work,” said Mr. Sands. He also pointed out that there is still a crisis with HIV/AIDS plus the situation is aggravated with COVID-19. It is clear that governments are facing a lot of challenges, but they cannot ignore the alarming dynamics of the HIV epidemic, especially if this issue can be addressed at no added cost as clearly shown by the study findings presented by The Economist.

“This report  has a tremendous potential to be the basis of our future efforts. It is very important,” said Andriy Klepikov to wrap up the online discussion “Drug Policies in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia: Presenting the Report by The Economist.” “I would like to point out that this report is something new. We have been talking about decriminalization for many years now. However, in this study we were not raising the question of decriminalization, we asked an open question: “Where can the money come from, if there is no money?” The Economist offered a clear answer to this question. In 20 years, about €12 billion can be saved in four countries with introducing humane drug policies based on human rights and reinvested in ART and harm reduction programs, which will be cost effective. Further advocacy should be based on those arguments. It is only a start of a broad discussion. There are good practices in the countries and we need to strengthen knowledge sharing. We invite representatives of all the stakeholders to join the dialogue and discuss the details of the advocacy strategy to be implemented in the countries. Millions of lives are at stake and now we know for sure the answer to the question how countries can bring the dynamics of new HIV cases under control and achieve 90-90-90 targets without allocating additional resources.”

March 02, 2021

Drug control policies in EECA: presentation of the study by The Economist (online discussion)

Drug policy in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia: presentation of the study by The Economist

On March 10, 2021, from 10 AM to 1 PM ET (EET, UTC +2), an online discussion will be held on the first regional study “Drug Policy in EECA: the Economic, Health and Social Impact” conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit with the support of the Alliance for Public Health in 2020.

The research is unique as it provides data on the economic consequences of the existing drug policy on the example of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, demonstrating financial costs that countries incur by continuing the existing approach and practices. The document also contains forecasts of what changes await for the states in case they change approaches to drug policy. This is the first study of its kind in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

The main purpose of the online presentation on March 10 is to present and discuss the findings from the survey, as well as to initiate wider stakeholder dialogue in focus countries.

To participate in the event, you must pre-register: Before the event, all registered participants will be sent a ZOOM link to join the online conference.

The language of the event is Russian and English with simultaneous translation.

Representatives of civil society from EECA countries, representatives of relevant government agencies that make decisions on drug policy issues, representatives of country, donor and international organizations, experts, human rights defenders, and the media are invited to participate in the online discussion on March 10.

The drug policy of the countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region is largely similar and is characterized primarily by the predominance of law enforcement measures, while public health measures aimed at prevention, rehabilitation, treatment and access to controlled medicines remain a lower priority for governments. The legislation of these countries and law enforcement practice are restrictive and even punitive in nature.

The main victims of this approach are people who inject drugs (PWID), who are primarily chronically ill people who need medical and social assistance. Instead, in practice, PWID become hostages of the existing approach, since the main efforts of law enforcement agencies are directed at them rather than at the organized drug business.

The report describes the methods and key findings of a study by the Analytical Department of The Economist on the criminalization, access to health and social services of PWID in four EECA countries: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. These countries were selected due to the high level of drug use, disproportionate legal regulation and law enforcement practices in relation to PWID.

To understand the social and political barriers and costs associated with scaling up HIV prevention for PWID and treatment targets, the study looked at a number of factors. For example, the report reveals the implications of punitive law enforcement policies using a modeling approach that assesses the savings and benefits of scaling up public health interventions for PWID, as opposed to the current criminalization approach. The report concludes with key recommendations for improving harm reduction practices for PWID in EECA countries in order to reduce the spread of HIV.


Contact for more information:

Email:, Inna Gavrylova, PR&Communications Manager, Alliance for Public Health


time sessions

Welcoming words, aims and objectives of the webinar

— Andrey Klepikov, Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health

— President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Global Commission on drug policy

— Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund

Olena Kucheruk — moderator


Presentation of the report “Drug Control Policies in EECA: The Economic, Health and Social Impact

Chrissy Bishop, the Economist Intelligence Unit

Questions, discussion


Discussion on the report

— Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Global Commission on drug policy

— Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, UNODC

— Vladimir Pozner, journalist, Russian Federation


Current state in 4 countries: discussions for EECA countries

Russian Federation

Peter Meylakhs, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia

Anna Sarang, Andrey Rylkov Foundation, expert on drug policy, Russian Federation

Arseniy Levinson, lawyer, human rights activist, Russian Federation


Erlan Balymov, Major of Police (TBC)

Oksana Ibragimova, PLHA Union, Kazakhstan


Timur Isakov, State Committee on drug enforcement control, Government of Kyrgyzstan, colonel of Police

Erkinbek Iriskulbekov, Economical faculty of the International University of Kyrgyzstan, lawyer, human rights activist, expert on drug policy


— Alexey Aleksandrov, chief doctor Minsk clinical narcology, Belarus

Anatoliy Pospelov, “Positive action”, Belarus

12:30—12:40 Summarizing and closing
February 12, 2021

PrEP pilot is launched in North Macedonia with the #SoS_project support

In January 2021, a pilot was launched in Skopje to introduce PrEP. It will run for 12 months and will target 100 people representing MSM, sex workers and transgender people. The pilot will provide PrEP as part of a broader sexual health package. The PrEP pilot includes a research component to analyze the model of service provision, design any necessary improvements and changes, and develop advocacy efforts for further expansion and sustainability.

With the launch of the pilot, North Macedonia became one of the first countries in the Balkan region to introduce pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“The Working Group on the pilot implementation began its work in 2020. It was able to overcome some logistical difficulties and, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to prepare the operational research for the pilot earlier this year,” Stronger Together said.

All stages of the procurement process for drugs for the PrEP pilot were coordinated by the Alliance for Public Health team, and thanks to international procurement mechanisms the cost of the purchased drugs was 5 times lower than the cost of the same drugs procured by North Macedonia.

“We will continue to support our partners in North Macedonia throughout the entire period of the PrEP pilot, also within the research component, providing the necessary technical assistance,” Alliance for Public Health said.

The launch and implementation of the pilot is the result of collaboration between Stronger Together, the Association for the Support of People Living with HIV in North Macedonia, and the Alliance for Public Health, with financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as part of the regional project “Sustainability of Services for Key Populations in the EECA and SEE region” (SoS_project).

It should be noted that with the expert and financial support of the Alliance for Public Health and the SoS_project team in North Macedonia in 2020, a protocol for PrEP pilot in the format of an operational research as well as the first national recommendations for pre-exposure prophylaxis in the context of sexual health were developed.

This pilot in North Macedonia is being implemented through a partnership co-financing model of three partners: SoS_project, the Clinic of Infectious Diseases and the National Health Insurance Fund.

Importantly, implementation of PrEP services in North Macedonia is designed to integrate PrEP into healthcare system after piloting, which is expected to contribute to its sustainability after the end of the SoS project in North Macedonia.

December 07, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the human rights situation in 5 EECA countries: on December 9, about 2000 HR cases will be presented

On December 9, 2020, from 11:00 to 14:30 (GMT + 2), on the eve of International Human Rights Day, a live discussion The rights of key groups in Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine: situation, monitoring, response to violations will be held.

The online event will for the first time unveil data on the analysis of offenses collected over the year in 5 countries with the REAct database – a unique system for responding to violations of the rights of key populations vulnerable to HIV and tuberculosis (TB). During the year, about 2000 cases were registered from people living with HIV and representatives of key groups.

“It is impossible to stop the HIV and TB epidemics by continuing to violate human rights, criminalize groups at risk, practice gender inequality. And inaction is unacceptable. REAct is an effective tool for monitoring human rights violations by communities, as well as for immediate response and protection of rights,” says Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health.

As part of the online discussion, an analytical report on Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine will be presented, which reflects the main trends and nature of human rights violations among representatives of key groups, as well as offers recommendations for improving the situation in each of the countries. The main goal of the event is to combine experience and improve the effectiveness of human rights work.

As noted by the Alliance for Public Health, based on analysis in 5 countries, it is clear that representatives of key populations, namely people living with HIV, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men and sex workers do not have equal access to the exercise of their rights. and freedoms.

Discussion speakers:

  • Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director, Alliance for Public Health;
  • Igor Kuzin, acting General Director, Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine;
  • Tetiana Deshko, Director of International Programs, Alliance for Public Health;
  • Mikhail Golichenko, international human rights expert, Senior Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network;
  • Marina Novachuk, Senior Adviser, UNAIDS Country Office in Ukraine;
  • Olga Varetskaya, Associate Director for Strategic Information and M&E, Alliance for Public Health.

We invite you to participate in the online broadcast on Facebook (in Russian and English).

Remarkably, Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that everyone has the right to medical care. Health for All has become a key principle in the work of WHO and all international and national health institutions. However, according to the collected evidence in the REAct database, the main violations of the rights of at-risk groups in the countries of the region are discrimination, misconduct, violence by law enforcement agencies (45% of cases), denial of access to medical services, disclosure of medical data and stigma by employees of institutions health care (26%), physical violence against women by both sex partners and relatives and police officers (20%).

To date this tool for responding to human rights violations is being successfully implemented by the Alliance for Public Health team with partners in 5 countries, and by the end of 2020 it is planned to expand the geography of work to 2 more countries. Overall, the REAct partnership in the EECA region accounts for 14 non-governmental organizations in Georgia, 9 in Moldova, 7 in Tajikistan, 13 in Kyrgyzstan, and 28 in Ukraine. The overall project coverage includes 28 cities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The REAct team, in addition to recording complaints on violations, provides consultations for victims on legal issues, provides social assistance and support, and also assists in solving cases through mediation or appeals to law enforcement agencies.

LIVE streaming

In english:

  • facebook
  • youtube

In russian

  • facebook
  • youtube

Additional Information:

The International Charitable Foundation “Alliance for Public Health” is a leading non-governmental professional organization that has a significant impact on the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and other socially dangerous diseases by providing financial and technical support to relevant programs that reach more than 250,000 representatives of key population groups, which is the highest in Europe. The organization has been regularly conducting research, innovating and disseminating best practice in evidence-based approaches to accelerate the response to HIV/AIDS, TB and hepatitis worldwide for 20 years.

The REAct tool in the EECA region is being implemented by the Alliance for Public Health, within the framework of the regional project “Sustainability of services for key populations in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region”, with financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

REAct (Rights-Evidence-Action) is an online system that allows to document violations of the human rights of representatives of key groups vulnerable to HIV and tuberculosis (TB), and to respond to such violations.

Frontline AIDS has developed the system’s tools and is the technical partner of #SoS_project for working with the REAct system in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

December 02, 2020 Alliance launched complimentary online consultations for health concern Alliance launched complimentary online consultations for health concern

Have you ever experienced a situation when you urgently need to get a consultation on health issues and there is no opportunity to visit a doctor/hospital? Fortunately, the world is changing and we can observe digitalization penetrating all the spheres of everyday life. At present lots of services are available on-line and consultations on health issues are not the exception.

Web resource was developed by Alliance for Public Health with the aim to be the source of useful information for patients from the key groups receiving HIV services. The main attraction of this web site is the rating of healthcare institutions as well as medical workers due to which patients have the possibility of taking a balanced decision towards the choice of healthcare institutions and doctors.

Starting from 1st December the resource is increasing its functionality. From now on it is possible to get complimentary expert consultations on health and psychological issues on-line. Every individual can register at the web site and book a consultation at any convenient time and date. There is the on-line chart on this web resource that functions in real time mode. Its aim is to provide technical support to service recipients whenever needed and at their immediate request. In case should there be any queries related to the use or web resource functionality do not hesitate to contact our administrators in the on-line chart.

See you at

December 01, 2020

Do you know what day it is today?

Today is not only the first day of winter :-), not only the World AIDS Day, it’s also the day when Alliance was born!

Today we are 20!

20 years of inspired work with our partners, communities, and experts to eliminate the epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis in Ukraine and in our region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia to make sure that public health systems work more effectively and take into account the needs of different populations. Today we are also fighting the new challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are things we are proud of – active engagement with communities, innovative approaches implemented and the fact that we are widely known as a professional, qualified, vibrant and dynamic organization. We do not stop and are moving forward!

We would like to celebrate this day with doing good, remembering our key achievements and the people who have been with us throughout this time – helping, creating, changing! That is why we have prepared many useful and fascinating things to inspire you this December!
Follow our news, it will be exciting!
P.S: Have you already checked out our festive logo?)


November 30, 2020

#ItsinYourPowertoLive – the topic of the special broadcast To Tell the Truth on AIDS Day

On December 1, 2020 at 17:00 (Moscow time) the special episode of the program To Tell the Truth, an educational project of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) and UNESCO, with the support of the social network Odnoklassniki will be broadcast online on the platform .

The topic of the #ItsinYourPowertoLive broadcast is not chosen by chance, this year AIDS Day is very different compared to previous years, since today we are living in a double pandemic – the HIV and COVID-19 pandemic.

These pandemics have a lot in common: general confusion, fear, lack of specific treatment (for COVID-19 now, as at the beginning of the HIV epidemic in early 90-s). Someone does not believe in virus existence, someone sees in it a worldwide conspiracy. How to survive during a pandemic? How can lessons from one pandemic be useful to combat another?

The guests of the broadcast are people who faced HIV infection in the past, when medicine was powerless or not accessible, and society lived in fear and disbelief, and today, when the HIV virus has become one of the most studied on the planet, share their stories on what helped them survive, continue to live today and believe in tomorrow.

Vera Brezhneva, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for EECA. Vera will share the main takeaways from her years working in HIV as an Goodwill Ambassador.

Host: Oksana Maklakova, journalist, editor-in-chief of the E1 portal

Special guests:

  • Natalya Ladnaya, Senior Researcher, Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Rospotrebnadzor, Moscow,
  • Alexander Goliusov, UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia,
  • Vera Brezhneva, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for EECA

Conversation with the heroes of the information campaign It’s in your power to live and HIV will not change it, who remember the times without treatment and with stigma, will talk about their experience of HIV dissidence, as well as the importance of reliable information in the media to fight myths. Broadcast guests:

  • Svetlana Tsukanova, Program Manager, Doctors of the World Association, Director of Svetozar NGO, Moscow,
  • Yulia Yakovleva, peer consultant, HIV activist from Chelyabinsk
  • Svetlana Sumina, peer consultant at the AIDS Center from the patient community “Ostrov”, Novosibirsk,
  • Alexander Chebin, project coordinator at the Regional Public Fund “New Life”: Yekaterinburg,
  • Margarita Loginova, journalist of, author of the podcast about people with HIV “One pluses”, Novosibirsk,
  • Sergey Ulyanov, HIV activist, coordinator at the HIV-service NGO Humanitarian Project, participant of the Patient Control movement, Novosibirsk.

The broadcast was prepared jointly with partners from the St. Petersburg charitable foundation “Humanitarian Action”.

Air on December 1, 2020 at 17:00 (Moscow time) on the website with broadcast also on Facebook.https: //


November 13, 2020

First regional COVID-19 program launched in EECA region

The Alliance for Public Health has launched the first regional COVID-19 program funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The budget is $500,000. The implementation of activities is designed for 8 months: from November 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

The COVID-19 program will be coordinated by the #SoS_project team in 14 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the regional level with a national focus on countries not  receiving grants from the Global Fund – Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Russia.

“It was obvious to us that the countries of the EECA region urgently need additional support. Primarily to help them maintain the advancements of HIV/TB programs that are at risk because of COVID-19. The effective provision of HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support services across the region must continue,” said Tatiana Vinichenko, Portfolio Manager at the Global Fund. – Therefore, the decision to initiate special funding in connection with COVID-19 for operational activities in the countries was extremely necessary. And the regional program will allow us to provide support for regional initiatives and national initiatives in several countries at once”.

Note that the volume of government funding for HIV services among key populations and people living with HIV was extremely insufficient in the EECA region at the beginning of 2020. With the COVID-19 outbreak, which rocked the entire world, all countries began to revise their budgets, prioritizing measures against COVID-19. This has jeopardized many years of work to build the sustainability of HIV services across the region.

“The support of the Global Fund has played a critical role in the immediate response to the COVID-19 problem,” says Sergey Filippovych, director of the #SoS_project at the Alliance for Public Health. “At the same time, there are countries in the EECA region that do not receive financial support from the Global Fund. They do not have national grants, and they are even more vulnerable, which negatively affects the response to epidemics. Therefore, our team decided to support these countries and ensure the allocation of funding for critical events through the Global Background regional grant mechanism. ”

Based on the analysis of the epidemiological situation, the latest technical guidelines and assessments available, as well as the existing funding structure, problem areas were identified in programs to ensure the sustainability of programs and HIV in EECA countries related to the COVID-19 problem. These are the areas that have been selected as the focus of the regional COVID-19 program:

  • The continuity of HIV services in the cities of the Russian Federation and Bosnia and Herzegovina; simplification and increasing availability of services
  • Respect for human rights, gender equality for representatives of key groups in response to COVID-19
  • Contingency planning for sustainable service delivery in EECA countries during and after COVID-19.

In the Russian Federation, the project is supposed to provide services related to HIV and prevention of COVID-19 to at least 2,500 PLHIV and key populations. Masks, gloves, hygiene kits will be purchased for them. It is also planned to install syringe machines and condoms in order to minimize personal contact and reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, work will focus on establishing and operating a telemedicine systemfor patients who live in remote areas and cannot reach clinics in nearby towns or villages.

At the same time, planning and national approval of COVID-19 related changes in HIV services will be undertaken in all project countries.

A separate focus of the COVID-19 program will be human, community and gender rights, in the context of adaptability and delivery of HIV services, and ensuring sustainable access to services. The geography of monitoring human rights violations using the REAct tool, as well as the work of the partner of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, will be expanded and systematized in several more countries of the region. Thus, the closure of borders also led to the interruption of the supply of drugs for substitution therapy to Moldova. This risk exists in other countries as well. In addition, government agencies responsible for OST and harm reduction programs in several countries have not announced a tender for the purchase of drugs or announced the acceptance of bids from civil society organizations providing harm reduction services. This is already a critical situation in Montenegro and Bulgaria.

Note that #SoS_project quite naturally became the main platform for the implementation of measures on COVID-19 as part of the new support program for the region by the Global Fund. Existing partnerships with national partners, knowledge of the region and problems, understanding of financial gaps and opportunities, as well as work on budget advocacy at the national and municipal levels, the #SoS_project team will help strengthen the program and ensure its immediate launch and rapid implementation within 8 months. It is assumed that the services and terms of their provision will continue in the future.

November 04, 2020

Irina Kutsenko: I was a deputy who closed the sites of OST and LGBT organizations

Irina Kutsenko, a deputy of the Odessa City Council dealing with social issues in the city, received an international award #InYourPower. She became the first and so far the only government official nominated by civil society.

In an exclusive interview, she shared her story: about why she stayed on the sidelines for a long time and closed the OST sites and LGBT organizations; how she came to understand the importance of supporting the city’s HIV/TB program and the work of harm reduction programs, why it significantly helps to improve the health of citizens; about the experience of cooperation with non-governmental organizations, about building a dialogue with medical and security agencies; about conversations on inconvenient topics with deputies, as well as how to prioritize these issues on the municipal agenda and launch an information campaign that the city media will talk about.

So, now Irina Kutsenko is an active defender of community rights at the level of city authorities, a person with tremendous energy and extraordinary willpower. She continues to initiate changes in the city in relation to the most vulnerable groups of the population. She does everything to bring medical and social services in Odessa closer to the most advanced global approaches to harm reduction and combating HIV/TB . But it was not always like that.

“I was the deputy who closed the site of substitution therapy in my district, I collected signatures from people against gay culture and its spread in our city, that is, I was a deputy who conducted completely different activities,” says Irina. But after completing the course of the International Harm Reduction Academy, she began to actively dig into the problem: “I started reading in the Internet, listening to interviews of people, listening to life stories, and I understood that I was wrong!”.

Having changed her personal understanding of the problem and the ways to solve it, Irina gradually begins to cooperate with public organizations to make Odessa a safer city and people more socially protected.

“When representatives of a public organization came to me with a harm reduction project in the city, I already understood what they were talking about. At that moment, I realized that the NGO today knows more than any of the officials. At first I was just listening,” the deputy recalls.

The first task of Irina Kutsenko and members of the public was to find a common language, when everyone is doing their own thing. “We needed everyone – doctors, authorities, and public organizations – to unite into one common work,” she recalls. “Before, everyone was separate.”

The main step towards changing the situation in the city was the fact that disparate society representatives began to communicate. The dialogues took place with the participation of deputies, in the mayor’s office, with the necessary arguments and eloquent statistics, which were often hidden or uninformative for the authorities. As a result of this work, the mayor of the city supported the initiative, and today in Odessa steps are purposefully implemented within the framework of the already signed Paris Declaration. Odessa is also the first city in Ukraine to take on commitments under the Zero TB Cities initiative and is systematically moving towards overcoming the tuberculosis and HIV epidemics. In 2 years, this results from joint efforts and a radical increase in the effectiveness of tuberculosis treatment through the provision of treatment “at primary care” – from 52% to 71%.

However, as the mayor of Odessa Gennady Trukhanov said, it was not easy for the city itself. The deputies debated heatedly during two sessions. The city authorities, in addition to local everyday problems, also need to tackle global challenges, in particular – to help medical workers in the fight against epidemics. After all, everyone is interested in this. “Mayors are assessed by the state of the city: roads, roofs, warmth, comfortable public space. This is all true. And we can achieve cleanliness in the cities, but with the spread of all dangerous infections in the world, God forbid, the time may come when there will be no one to walk along these roads,” the Odessa mayor emphasized.

Also, within the framework of the program, outpatient treatment of tuberculosis was introduced instead of in-patient model, and medical practitioners began to actively test visitors for HIV at polyclinics, educational institutions, and purchased a large number of tests. Thus, the city was able to increase the HIV detection rate and provided an opportunity to make treatment available for people.

“Of course, there are still many problems, but, step by step, we are changing the situation in the city,” says Irina Kutsenko. “We understand that the projects are coming to an end, but those declarative things that were signed by the mayor, and we, as deputies, will have to implement both in this convocation and in the next one, because this is a matter of the life of our citizens”.

Interview timecode:

00:01 – a short content of the interview, consisting of vivid statements of the charismatic deputy

00:58 – how it all began

02:13 – dialogue with the people who need help

04:05 – meeting of the fraction:

“Well, guys, I’m going to tell you something completely different now … We must legalize sex work and open substitution therapy sites. They thought I was crazy. ”

05:23 – dialogue with public organizations, the mayor and the Paris Declaration: Odessa approach

08:45 – HIV and TB, stigma and treatment initiation under a motivation program for health workers

11:28 – projects “go away”, but the issue of people’s lives remains on the agenda

11:45 – harm reduction services in municipal pharmacies in Odessa

12:40 – how the city HIV / TB program was developed for 65 million hryvnia

15:02 – life hacks and shame: how NGOs helped convince MPs to support the city’s HIV/TB programs

17:15 – “It’s all right with the Duke “: mural, media resonance and HIV testing

18:56 – creation of the second center of integrated social services for harm reduction in Ukraine (the first is in Sumy)

19:17 – new format of cooperation with law enforcement agencies

19:43 – “we are on the sidelines until they explain to us”

22:45 – “speak a simple language”

23:00 – how to calculate the budget of the city program

August 25, 2020

Conference for and about teens “Through virtual to real”

We are happy to invite you to the Conference for and about teens “Through virtual to real” that will take place on 15-17 of September 2020 online. The website of the Conference is

to follow the Conference in FB please, visit

🔴 What for?
We are holding this conference to ensure that teenagers have access to friendly, systematic and high quality services. We believe that the prevention of HIV/tuberculosis/hepatitis/sexually transmitted infections must be effective, correspond to international standards and be easy to get for every teenager.

🔴 For whom?
For adolescents and professionals working for and with adolescents

🔴 Who are the organizers?
ICF “AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW-Ukraine) and ICF “Alliance for Public Health”.

🔴 Why online?
In times of global epidemic, access to information and learning should be safe. In addition, holding the Conference online will give a unique opportunity to participate for everyone!

🔴 In what language?
The official language of the Conference is Ukrainian. But we will also provide a translation of some of the sessions into English and Russian.

🔴 How will it all happen?
On the Conference website, which we will show you very soon, you will be able to learn about the program, speakers and schedule of sessions, to choose the most interesting ones and, after the registration, join all of the events. We will additionally inform you about the beginning of registration.

🔴 Why to register?
• Some of the events will be broadcast on our social networks, but only registered participants of the Conference will have access to all sessions and materials of the Conference.
• Registered participants of the Conference will be able to receive a certificate of participation.
• If you register, you will be able to participate in all discussions during the online sessions and continently communicate with other participants.
• There will be a raffle of prizes with promotional materials of the Conference as an additional bonus for everyone registered.

🔴 What is the hashtag of the conference?

In order to apply please fill in the form at the

Session categories:

  • Building skills and competencies of adolescents
  • Mental health
  • Sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Adolescents in conflict with the law
  • Digital Security and Media Literacy
  • Human Rights and legislation
  • Adherence to treatment
  • Access to services
  • Prevention of negative consequences of risky behavior: proactive tools
  • Violence and bullying
  • Safe leisure activities
  • Other

The program of the Conference includes mixed demonstration of recorded and live sessions.