Report from Ukraine

Report from Ukraine
Mark Parrino, AATOD President
Mark Parrino, AATOD President
Michael Rizzi, CODAC President/CEO; Mark Parrino, President of AATOD; and Icro Maremmani, President of Europad, recently returned from Kiev, Ukraine where they participated in a ground-breaking meeting to define Ukraine’s national strategy to deal with the challenges of opioid dependence and HIV/AIDS. While representing their respective organizations, Maremmani, Parrino, and Rizzi were also representing the newly established World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (WFTOD) as President, Vice President, and Treasurer, respectively and each made presentations at general sessions.

The conference was organized by the State Service of the Ukraine on Drug Control in partnership with UNODC, the Pompidou Group, the National Academy of the Legal Sciences of the Ukraine, and the World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence and was attended by politicians, leading researchers, recognized international and national experts in the sectors of healthcare, drug control, education, culture, law, representatives of social protection institutions, national security, law enforcement, and penitentiary authorities.

Of special note was the enthusiastic support of both Mr. Volodymr Timoshenko, Head of the State Service of Ukraine on Drug Control, who is extremely firm in his support for Medication Assisted Treatment in the Ukraine and Mr. Yuri Fedotov, the UN Undersecretary General and the Director General of the UN Office in Vienna/Executive Director of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The cooperation between the government of the Ukraine, with Mr. Timoshenko’s leadership, and the UNODC marks a significant development in expanding access to methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone for opioid addicted patients in the Ukraine.

After hearing reports and presentations within the framework of discussion of the National Drug Strategy of Ukraine for the period through 2020 (the Strategy) and exchange of experience on modern evidence-based approaches to prevention, treatment of drug-addiction, improvement of interaction among different groups of professionals, and comprehensive resolution of such issues, the Conference participants state:

· “The new approach to drug circulation, counteracting drug addiction and drug related crimes suggested in the draft Strategy is objectively justified, consistent with the current needs of national development, preservation and maintenance of security and public health. It is quite consistent with realities of the modern civilization and efforts of the international and European community to counteract drug-related threats

· The selected progressive paradigm regarding the role and place of drugs in the contemporary Ukrainian society is to provide a balanced system of drug control for the benefit of people, comprehensive and targeted focus of prevention measures, consistency in implementation of efficient methods of treatment of drug addiction, as well as the focus of law enforcement resources to combat systemic factors of the illegal drug market

· The Strategy sets as its determining factors human rights, focus on prevention of drug use and bringing drug addicted persons back to normal life, as well as a conceptual shift from the punitive vector of the drug policy for drug users towards prevention and treatment.”

Additionally, and of particular note, were the comments made by Gilberto Gerra, Director of the Drug Prevention and Health Branch of UNODC. When commenting on the stigma and discrimination experienced by individuals seeking and/or in treatment stated that “…individuals seeking, or in treatment for this disease, should receive nothing less than the treatment they would receive for any other disease. And this treatment should be based on and follow, best and evidence-based practices.”

Rizzi stated, “Mark, Icro, and I were impressed and encouraged by the respective statements and commitments of UN, WHO, and Ukraine officials and the growing international acceptance and expansion of evidence-based medication assisted treatment. WFTOD, AATOD, and Europad look forward to assisting in any way possible.”

Michael Rizzi,
Sep 6, 2012, 1:26 PM