On 4-6 April 2017, Vilnius (Lithuania) will host a Regional Conference organized by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) in the framework of the Regional Program "Harm Reduction Works – Fund It!" funded by the Global Fund.

On 4-6 April 2017 Vilnius (Lithuania) will host a Regional Conference "HARM REDUCTION IN THE NEW ENVIRONMENT". The event is organized by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) in the framework of the Regional Program "Harm Reduction Works – Fund It!" funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Conference will gather representatives of governments and government agencies, NGOs and PWUD communities from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA), as well as experts, donors and representatives of international organizations.

Participants will be able to assess the results, progress and prospects of the advocacy effort undertaken by civil society in order to achieve sustainable and quality harm reduction programs in CEECA. Another objective is to outline development strategies for harm reduction programs from the standpoint of civil society and the state. That is necessary for the establishment of a joint effort aimed at ensuring sustainability of these programs in CEECA in response to the new environment, primarily associated with the transition from donor to domestic funding. In this new environment, harm reduction provides a link between people who use drugs and the entire continuum of drug-related services, from HIV/TB prevention to testing, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and hepatitis, as well as helping develop adherence to ART.

Over the course of three days, the Conference will tackle the main issues related to harm reduction in the new environment:

Day 1 - funding of harm reduction;

Day 2 – the role of harm reduction in social and medical care for people who use drugs;

Day 3 - harm reduction as health and human rights-based drug policy.

Civil society representatives, EHRN members and members of PWUD communities will get a unique opportunity to win 80 grants to take part in the Conference. An application form will be available on the EHRN website from the 12th of December.

“We are convinced that the Conference "HARM REDUCTION IN THE NEW ENVIRONMENT" will serve as a regional discussion platform in advance to the 25th International Harm Reduction Conference in Montreal in 2017, and to the 22th International AIDS Conference in 2018. CEECA is a very diverse region, and the achievements differ too. Therefore we need constructive dialogue between the PWUD community, government officials, experts, donors and technical agencies. That dialogue will help us arrive at a common understanding of how important harm reduction programs are in social and healthcare context. It would also allow us to see the possible consequences the transition to domestic funding could have and give an appropriate response. The organizers are aiming for these stakeholders to reach a consensus on their role in improving the quality and sustainability of harm reduction programs." – says Anna Dovbakh, Acting Executive Director of EHRN.

The importance of such dialogue is undisputable: the previous conference - Regional Dialogue "Road to Success" - held by EHRN in Tbilisi in 2015, brought together 320 delegates from 31 countries and became a real catalyst for successful decision-making on national and regional levels.