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Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Advocacy
Topics: Needle and Syringe Programmes; Overdose Prevention and Management
Presenting author: Marine Gogia
Marine Gogia, Guranda Jikia, Khatuna Kutateladze
Background: Consumption of drugs (mostly home-made) and different psychoactive substances lead to increased number of deaths in the past decade in Georgia. The situation was complicated by several facts: law coverage of PWIDs by existing harm reduction programs, low accessibility to Naloxone and needed information; Police regulation that envisaged a Mandatory disclosure of any overdose by an ambulance that lead to criminal responsibility. No statistics existed about deaths caused by overdose.
Objective: 1.To increase accessibility to Naloxone in harm reduction programs, scaling-up community-based education and Naloxone distribution for PWIDs. 2.Provision of advocacy measures against police notification. 3.Increasing awareness on Overdose in general public.
Methods: Advocacy activities targeting informing decision-makers about importance of Naloxone free accessibility was carried out. Overdose awareness campaigns were implemented in different regions of the country. Several protest actions against police regulation was conducted. Peer Driven Intervention with overdose component was initiated and developed. Information about overdose cases was collected by harm reduction sites.
Results: Centralized procurement of Injectable Naloxone was executed; accordingly distribution of Naloxone in 2014 (9,881 units) had increased 6 times in comparison with 2011.
Peer-Driven-Intervention was used as an effective tool for overdose education and Naloxone distribution; totally 4032 peers were educated and equipped with Naloxone in 2015. As an impact of broaden advocacy activities for several years police regulation was abolished, ambulance comes to overdosed without police. Statistics on overdose became available (number of overdosed 528; number of deaths 39 in 2015).
Conclusion: Identification of different sets of problems and combination of consistent advocacy activities by civil society/community had played an important role in increasing awareness about overdose. Targeted education of community and their involvement in Naloxone distribution lead to increased demand and increased knowledge about overdose prevention. Preventing Opioid overdose–related deaths became a major focus of harm reduction programs in Georgia.