Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Practice
Topics: Human Rights and Harm Reduction; Opioid Substitution Therapy Programmes
Presenting author: Svitlana Tkalya
Svitlana Tkalya, Anton Basenko, Pavlo Skala, Myroslava Andruschenko
Background: The estimated number of PWID in Ukraine is 345,000. Only 8,900 of them receive OST, though the need is much higher. Unfortunately, due to the lack of adequate information about OST, wide-spread myths, prejudiced, stigmatizing attitude of doctors and law-enforcers and human rights violations, OST coverage is still low.
Action: The National OST Hotline (operating since 2009) allows immediately responding to violations of the OST patients’ right to treatment and provides consultations on access to treatment for potential clients. As most of consultants are OST patients themselves, they can provide targeted “peer to peer” assistance. This source of information is most trusted among OST patients’ community. The hotline ensures documentation, systematization and analysis of data to be used in future assessment and program activities. We currently cooperate with Ministry of Health, Ombudsman’s Office, GF Inspector General within the anticorruption Speak Out Now campaign.
The line is the only specialized service for PWID and OST patients in the country, which provides assistance in specific cases, engages professionals to resolve problems, gives advice on health issues, ensures prevention and response to human rights violations by the police, prison or medical staff, and provides information on other services. It helps to improve patient enrolment and raise awareness among potential clients and their relatives.
In 2014, after Crimea annexation and armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Hotline became an invaluable communication tool for internally displaced OST patients, in many cases saving their lives. For most of them the line was the only way to receive assistance on how to leave temporarily uncontrolled areas and remain on life-saving OST.
Results: During last year, thanks to the Hotline 3,000 PWID and their relatives received help and advice. The Hotline continues its activities and needs additional support to allow its further development and expansion.