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ID: HR19-875

Presenting author: Oxana Ibragimova

Presenting author biography:

I am an activist in the field of harm reduction. I represent the interests and defend rights of people who use drugs (PWUD) in Kazakhstan. I have experience in public presentations on the topic of drug policy, harm reduction and access to medical services for people who use drugs.

Advocacy by the community of people who use drugs of OST programs in Kazakhstan.

Oxana Ibragimova

There are 13 OST sites in Kazakhstan. The program is financed by the GF. However, the program has been a "pilot" project for 10 years and is expanding too slow thus causing concern of the program participants. The program has stopped accepting new patients by the decision of the government commission since December 2017.
The total number of patients increased to 1 084 people since the program started in 2008. Currently there are 322 patients or 2.7% of all registered opioid drug users in OST program. This represents less than one percent of their estimated number in the country.

In order to inform OST supporters, the "Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV" initiated a social and mass media campaign. OST patients, community members, their relatives, doctors and civil society activists posted their stories in social media. Community members and OST patients gave interviews to the journalists. OST patients addressed the President of Kazakhstan with a request not to close the program. We were supported by 64 international and non-governmental organizations from different countries. In some countries, activists organized rallies in front of Kazakhstan embassies. Over thirty letters were sent to the Commissioner for human rights in Kazakhstan. The campaign culminated with the republican action of OST patients in the capital of Kazakhstan on the eve of Interdepartmental Commission, which was going to decide their future.
On June 27, 2018, the Interdepartmental Commission for the Study of the Effectiveness of Opioid Substitution Treatment, chaired by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, decided not to close the program, ensure the work of OST sites and develop an Action Plan for the improvement of the program in agreement with the General Prosecutor's Office, the Ministries of the Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs.