Last Calls on Methadone…Russia’s in Charge

The recent events in Ukraine were watched by us all over the world. A president is deposed, and civil unrest spreads throughout the region. The Ukraine loses control of its western front in Crimea and by way of a rushed referendum supported by the people, has to hand the region back to Russia.  Military personal appear in the streets and laws change overnight. But what happens to the drug users? At INPUD, our members know very well that while the Ukraine recently started giving methadone and buprenorphine (mainly buprenorphine) to its users, Russia on the other hand, deems both drugs illegal and will not entertain OST (Opiate Substitution Therapy) for any reasons whatsoever. So, to the Crimean drug users who had once been lining up outside the methadone clinic, what was going to happen? Igor Kuzmenko was there and has written a series of blogs for us to give readers an insight into life after The Russian Referendum. 

Note: Igor Kuzmenko is an active member of INPUD’s sister organisation ENPUD, the Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs / Click the link to find out about what is going on in the region (pages are translatable with Chrome) and if interested, if you can fill in their membership form.

RI.P. Crimean OST program, 2006 - 

By Igor Kuzmenko

Part 1 (of 4)   It just so happened that when that a life changing referendum was being held in March in the Crimea this year, the one which asked all Crimean citizens about whether our region should stay with the current government of Ukraine or return again to Russia, I was participating in the annual commission of Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.  This meant  I could only receive news from the Crimea via Skype or by phone. And the news was bad. For my own work as a social worker dispensing Opiate Substitution Treatment (OST),  it really was bad news; a sharp decrease in dosages was followed by panic among the patients and  low spirits of the medical personnel on the OST site. And then there was the strange armed people and large numbers of ‘unknown’ military equipment now appearing in the Crimea…

igorVienna1_ed

Igor Kuzmenko outside the Commission for Narcotic Drugs In Vienna this year. He would return to quite a different Crimea…

Almost nothing has changed in the Crimea on the surface. Except that instead of usual Ukrainian flags there are now Russian ones, and instead of traffic cops there are notorious “green little men” at the junctions. And at night you can sometimes hear the roar of military machines crossing the city.

“If, at the beginning buprenorphine was reduced by 2 mg a week, at the end of April and in May it was being reduced by 2 mg every other day. It was a very painful process.”

The OST site changed externally even less – the same people, the same fuss. But it was only externally. The fear started to grow. The doctors and nurses were afraid because legally, if the Crimea belongs to Russia and obeys Russian laws and they continue with methadone distribution on the site, they could be arrested for “distribution of drugs in especially large amounts performed in collusion by a group of people”. And you should agree, that’s no laughing matter.

OST clients were terrified because changes to prescriptions are always frightening. Their families were terrified too, because years of quiet living came to an end after the termination of OST.

Dosages decreased more and more. If, at the beginning buprenorphine was reduced by 2 mg a week, at the end of April and in May it was being reduced by 2 mg every other day. It was a very painful process. Of course, many patients tried to compensate for a lack drugs by using a large amount of barbiturates and those who could, also used street drugs. Thus the condition of patients constantly worsened: barbiturates helped to numb unpleasant feelings a little but not the pain, which was enfeebling you at the same time. I still remember people wandering about the site yard like ghosts, patients who had grown old in just a few days.

OST Patients walking away having consumed their last dose of methadone...

OST Patients walking away having consumed their last dose of methadone…

How OST Died

I want everyone to have a clear idea of how exactly OST died in the Crimea. There weren’t any documents issued by local authorities or from the Ukrainian or Russian side which could forbid, limit or in any other way have an effect on the situation with substitution therapy on the Crimean sites.

The reasons for the decrease in dosages were a limited quantity of pharmaceuticals in the Crimean warehouses and an impossibility to import methadone and buprenorphine from Ukraine to the Crimea.

It was difficult to import enough methadone and buprenorphine for a month into the Crimea even before the referendum because there wasn’t calm in Ukraine due to the Maiden* and, after March 16, all these difficulties were multiplied by the issues of state affiliation. We just weren’t allowed to import a new consignment of medicine. OST wasn’t banned in the Crimea, it was strangled.

“OST wasn’t banned in the Crimea, it was strangled”

OST wasn’t banned in the Crimea, it was strangled. Whose fault is this? It is difficult to tell. It seems to me that happiness of the patients wasn’t important for both sides. A patient on pills is a medical issue, and a suffering patient is political issue. We live in politically charged times and in my opinion, a political outcome was favorable to both parties: beneficial for Russia because methadone is not legal there, and Ukraine got its’ chance to once again confirm the inhumane actions of Russia.

In Simferopol there were rumours of drug users being severely beaten by ‘groups of sporty looking people’. However, Igor says; “There was the death of a patient in Simferopol that was for real during that period. He just didn’t have any energy left to live with a daily decreasing dose…”

In the meantime there were a lot of rumors spreading around. Rumors of absolutely fanatical methods of counter-drug operations by FDCS,  (The Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation) such as shooting out the wheels of suspected cars. Rumors about groups of young sporty looking people who had recently appeared in Simferopol to attack drug addicts and beat them almost to death in places where it is possible to buy drugs. Rumors about  a shipload of heroin delivered to the Crimea from Russia. But there wasn’t any real confirmation of these rumors either.

But there was the death of a patient in Simferopol that was for real during that period. He just didn’t have any energy left to live with daily decreasing dose…. The fear of the future was for real too. And at the same time, there were high hopes. At that time very few people believed that OST, which everyone had gotten used to and without which nobody could imagine one’s life, would be banned and services closed all of the sudden.

The hope helps us to live.

Igor Kuzmenko

* Maiden: The name of the city Square in Kiev. It has been the site of many important protests including The Orange Revolution but for many months in 2014 it became the place where Euro-centric activists protested, camping out and fighting back against authorities. After bloody battles, people power reigned and the Ukrainian president fled into Russia. The protest gained the name The EuroMaiden Revolution.

RI.P. Crimean OST program, 2006

Part 2         Igor Kuzmenko

Around April, during the period of intensive decreases in methadone and buprenorphine doses, one of the patients approached me in the OST site in Simferopol. He was an adult man, slightly over 50 years old. He had multiple diagnoses, including  active form of tuberculosis (before the referendum he was admitted to the tuberculosis dispensary where he could get methadone, but after the referendum this opportunity didn’t exist anymore and he had to go the remaining OST site to get his methadone among healthy patients). He also suffered from Hepatitis C and HIV. He is an artist and looks like a true artist – he wears a raincoat and a long scarf. It was notable that he was extremely worried. Nervously taking a puff, he said:

“Igor, if sometimes you need my help, you can count on me. I have only one wish right now – to douse myself in gasoline and set myself on fire. If only it could do any good!”

Many of us didn’t want to sit back and do nothing. We organized a group. We didn’t set a task to change the political reality, obviously we were unable to do it, and we simply wanted to draw as much attention as possible to the stopping of the importation of OST medicine to the Crimea. So three of us paid a visit to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, in Kiev.

The Opiate Substituion Programme In Simferopol closes its doors for the forseeable future...

The Opiate Substitution Programme In Simferopol closes its doors for the forseeable future…

Besides us, inhabitants of the Crimea, there was a large number of local activists and representatives of The Alliance Ukraine (an HIV/AIDS organisation) participating in a protest action. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet the minister, but some officials from the civil service on HIV issues found a little bit of time for us.

“…It became absolutely clear to me that there will be no importation of OST medicines to the Crimea at all.”

I must admit that after this meeting in the Ministry of Health, it became absolutely clear to me that there will be no importation of OST medicines to the Crimea at all. Nobody was interested in that..

No Discontent Allowed

Meanwhile in Simferopol in the Crimea, our people tried to make a protest action near the headquarters of the Crimean government. And there we ran into surprise: all of us had gotten used to our liberal Ukrainian system regarding protest actions and meetings. It was rather simple to inform the city authorities of the time and place of a meeting in Ukraine. But as it became clear, in Russia, (and now in Crimea)  it is impossible for more than two people to gather together to show any discontent. Therefore we had to drop any idea of setting a protest action in the center of Simferopol.

sevestapol1_ed

Almost nothing changed in Crimea on the surface…(pic: Sevestapol)

Parental support is also very effective in context of raising the profile of OST, not least for the reason that parents are not drug-dependent and the stigmatizing that is usual in such cases, doesn’t apply to them. Unfortunately however, we also failed to attract a lot of parents to our movement.

I have to admit that the OST patient community couldn’t find complete consensus either. Some of us considered the proximity of Russia as being a benefit, others rejoiced at the sudden opportunity to quit methadone, and someone didn’t care at all. Some patients even participated in the referendum and the self-defense groups (groups which promoted pro-Russian forces in the Crimea). Nevertheless the majority of us wanted the same: at the maximum – the resumption of Opiate Substitution Treatment, and at the minimum – importation of a monthly stock of methadone and buprenorphine.

I am very grateful to the medical personnel of OST sites in the Crimea. Not their chiefs but the ordinary physicians and nurses. All of them are courageous people. Just think of it: according to Russian laws every day they went to work to give out methadone to the patients, they were making criminal acts. Acts that can be characterized as “distribution of drugs in especially large amounts performed in collusion by a group of people“. It was a very courageous especially as all of them without exception knew perfectly well how it could turn out for them.

And there were some things and some people to be afraid of. Both the administration and numerous “guests” put unbearable pressure on them. But I will tell you about that and many other things next time…

Stay tuned for part 3 and 4 in Igor Kuzmenko’s personal story of his community after Crimea becomes Russian again…

Posted in Eastern European Countries, Europe, law enforcement, methadone, peer insights, Regional Information, UNODC | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Publication for Women Injectors

WOMENwhoInject_HIV_specficNeedsPOLICY_BRIEF2014 poppy4Here is a link to an excellent newly released briefing jointly published by INPUD, UNODC’s HIV team, and UN Women looking at the particular challenges facing women who use drugs, and making concrete recommendations for service providers on the realisation of gender equality and human rights in harm reduction programming. Written by WHRIN founder and INPUD /INWUD member Ruth Birgin

Excerpt: To date, inadequate attention has been given to rectifying gender inequalities in harm reduction programming. Strategies and policies are urgently needed to address this gap as a first step towards improving the safety, health and well-being of women who inject drugs. Additional approaches should also be developed and implemented to provide comprehensive health, social and legal services that reach them and their sexual and drug-using partners. To be effective, such approaches should be based on evidence and human rights standards.

These steps are necessary not only for women who inject drugs, but also more broadly for communities and societies. Failure to adequately respond to the needs of this invisible and highly vulnerable population has harmful consequences for the health of the individuals themselves as well as for public health overall.

 The document is called:

Women who Inject Drugs and HIV; Addressing Specific Needs

WOMENwhoInject_HIV_specficNeedsPOLICY_BRIEF2014

 

Posted in HIV/AIDS, INPUD, INWUD, peer insights, Women | Leave a comment

Voices From The Global Movement Of People Who Use Drugs

For anybody there who has wondered just what drug user activism is….watch this

For any parent who thinks because their child uses drugs or is on a treatment prescription, that their life is effectively over…watch this

For any drug user who believes they are worth it, that their community is unique, and that their friends are worth saving, watch this – and if you dont -then you must watch this.

For all those people who never thought drug users could or would amount to anything – you owe us to watch this.

Have a look at some of the people, in some of the places around the world who have come together to talk about drug user activism, their incredible achievements, the massive obstacles they constantly tackle, bravely, beautifully and often with very little but their deeply felt belief that by saving each other, we are saving ourselves from the damage the war on drugs inflicts on our communities every day.

Australia’s National Drug User Organisation AIVL, (do NOT miss their excellent website) who are a truly supreme example of some world class user activism come good, have put together this really brilliant film, its only 14minutes long, not much time out of your life to see some positive images of people who use drugs; there are many more like this out there, if we would only choose to look again, not judge, not stereotype, not lap up the media cliches, but take a different approach and stop to see just what these amazingly dedicated people are doing for their communities.

Published on 29 Jul 2014; The Film ‘We Are Drug Users – Voices From The Global Movement Of People Who use Drugs’ was launched at “Through the Eye of the Needle – A Celebration of Drug User Activism” event at the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne.

NOTE: After over two decades of extremely hard work and excellent peer education and community involvement, AIVL and affiliated user organisations around Australia have overseen one of the lowest rates of HIV infection among the injecting community in the world, and have been a model of best practice throughout this time. Yet the current Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a fundementalist christian no less, is actively working against this incredible network wanting to dismantle over 2 decades of seemingly insurmountable progress and innovation in the field of community, government and global user activism. SHAME ON YOU TONY ABBOTT, SHAME ON YOU!

INPUD stands beside AIVL in solidarity and against bigotry, ignorance, and small minded politicians all over the world and we wish them every success in their fight to survive the conservative christian tide currently swamping Australia.

Film Title: We Are Drug Users – Voices From The Global Movement Of People Who use Drugs’

Subscribe to AIVLS own TV Station, click this link

Posted in conference, Decriminalisation, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Violations, peer education, peer insights, peer involvement, peer support | Leave a comment

Activists Hold a ‘Die In’ to Protest Hep C Drug Prices

Activists Hold Die-In to Protest High Price of Gilead’s Hepatitis C Drug

“HCV drugs are priced out of reach and out of control.”
—Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS

Photo by Alissa Sadler

Activists held placards and brought Greg Alton, the Executive Vice-President of Corporate and Medical Affairs of global pharmaceutical company Gilead, a cows liver on a platter, decrying the impossible pricing of the new HCV drug £1000 per pill, Solvaldi (sofosbuvir).

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, July 24, 2014 – Treatment activists at the 20th International AIDS Conference held a die-in to protest the exorbitant pricing of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), Gilead’s new hepatitis C virus (HCV) drug.

As Gregg Alton, Gilead’s Executive Vice President of Corporate and Medical Affairs, spoke, activists brought him a liver on a silver platter while chanting “Pills Cost Money, Greed Costs Lives,” “Shame, Shame, Shame,” and “Pharma Greed Kills.” Their signs said, “Wanted: Crimes Against Access,” “Hep C Criminal,” and “Gilead Kills” as the O’Jay’s “For the Love of Money” blared in the background.

Worldwide, at least 150 million people have chronic HCV. Although curable, it kills 500,000 people each year. Hepatitis C is prevalent among people who inject drugs, and widespread in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A few months of treatment with new oral drugs (including Sovaldi) can cure HCV. But Gilead charges US$84,000–168,000 for Sovaldi in the United States; prices across Europe are similar. Sovaldi is unavailable and unaffordable in LMICs, and access in high-income countries is limited.

Sovaldi must be used with other hepatitis C drugs, making treatment even more expensive. But these HCV drugs can be mass-produced generically for just a few hundred dollars for an entire course of treatment, according to researchers from the University of Liverpool.[1]

Alton defends Sovaldi’s price, claiming that treatment with Sovaldi is cheaper than a liver transplant. But most people with hepatitis C virus have not even been diagnosed, and have no hope for a transplant.

“Extortionate pricing will kill people, no matter what the illness —HIV, hepatitis, or cancer,” said Edo Agustian, an Indonesian activist coinfected with HIV and HCV.

Contact (in Melbourne):
Karyn Kaplan, Treatment Action Group (TAG)
E-mail: karyn.kaplan@treatmentactiongroup.org/Mobile: +1.646.316.8979

Niklas Luhmann, Médecins du Monde, France
E-mail: niklas.luhmann@medecinsdumonde.net/Mobile: : +33-7-86975185

Myths and Facts about Gilead’s

Sofosbuvir Pricing

 

MYTH: “The drug has to be priced this high for Gilead to recoup its investment.”

FACT: Gilead has already sold at least US$3 billion of sofosbuvir; sales will soon exceed its investment.

MYTH: “Gilead’s price is ‘cost effective,’ because it is cheaper than a liver transplant.”

FACT: Almost 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C; most people living with hepatitis C around the world will never even have the hope of a liver transplant. A cure should not be held hostage by high prices. Medicines should be priced so that people who need them can have access—not priced based on a comparison with other interventions.

MYTH: “Gilead has already done so much to increase access to sofosbuvir for the world’s poor—it has dropped the price as low as it can go.”

FACT: Sofosbuvir is priced at US$1,000 per day in the United States. Gilead could make its investment back through volume of sales while making the drug affordable. Health economists estimate that sofosbuvir could be produced generically for less than US$1 per day—a model that includes reasonable profit margin for generic drug makers.

MYTH: “Sofosbuvir will be available everywhere.”

FACT: Gilead is making licensing agreements that limit access and keep prices too high for most of the world.

MYTH: “Governments can pay for sofosbuvir.”

FACT: Even in high-income countries, Gilead’s price is completely unaffordable. Reports show that paying for sofosbuvir will bankrupt health care and education budgets.

 

[1] Hill, A, et al. Minimum target prices for production of treatment and associated diagnostics for hepatitis C in developing countries (Poster LBPE12). International AIDS Conference; 2014 July 20–25; Melbourne, Australia.

 

Posted in Campaigns, conference, Hepatitis C, peer involvement, Publications and Tools | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

21st July 2014 – International Remembrance Day

NO MORE DEATHS IN THE NAME OF PROHIBITION 

INPUD Statement for Remembrance Day 2014

Click here for the entire document in PDF Form.

RemembranceDay2014 poster for free use.

The INPUD Statement for International Remembrance Day 2014 now has Russian/русский  and French/français translations and links (see below).

 

 

 

“I would like to meet with Theresa May, Norman Baker [a UK home office minister] and Yvette Cooper [the UK shadow home secretary] to start a sensible dialogue for change, from prohibition to strict and responsible regulation of recreational drugs.”
Anne-Marie Cockburn – mother of Martha Fernback

Anne-Marie Cockburn’s fifteen year old daughter, Martha, died in the UK in June this year after taking particularly pure ecstasy. Instead of calling for a ratcheting up of failed drug war policies, she called instead for “‘sensible’ political debate on legalising recreational drugs”. Like so many others, she realized that the single greatest cause of so called ‘drug related harm’ is prohibition and the criminalization of people who use illegal drugs.

International Remembrance Day was founded in Germany seventeen years ago by parents who had suffered a similar loss, when their son, an injecting drug user died of an accidental overdose. In response they launched a call for humane drug policies, for comprehensive access to harm reduction programs (including heroin prescription), and saw their son’s death not as an isolated incident but as a direct result of the systemic stigma, repression, and criminalization to which people who use drugs are subject. Ever since, drug user organisations and their supporters in cities across the world will be holding events to remember lost friends and loved ones, to honour their memory and to call for an end to the systemic war that is being waged upon our community.

On this International Remembrance Day, the International Network of People who Use Drugs, underlines the pointless deaths caused by the war on drugs and underlines the immense damage that it does to our communities and families. On this day we mourn and remember our lost friends, and recommit ourselves to ensuring that fundamental change comes.

According to the report issued by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law in 2012 “[i]ntentionally or not, “wars on drugs” are wars on people who use drugs, and these people face police harassment, violence and incarceration; discrimination in health care, housing, employment and schooling; and political disenfranchisement”. There can be no doubt that fifty years since the passage of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and forty years since US President Richard Nixon declared his “war on drugs” that the single greatest burden of this war, fought in the name of morality, and supposedly, in the name of health, that this approach to addressing illicit drug use is an unmitigated disaster by every conceivable standard.

The Global Commission on HIV and the Law concluded by calling for countries to take “decisive action, in partnership with the UN, to review and reform relevant international laws and bodies […] including the UN international drug control conventions […] and the International Narcotics Control Board”. In spite of this far ranging, damning recommendation that skewers global prohibition as an absolute catastrophe for the rights, health, and citizenship of some of the world’s most marginalized people, why are we still seeing an absolute failure to act?

There can be no doubt that global prohibition, and the criminalisation that it entails, is the principal driver of human rights violations suffered by people who are criminalised and stigmatised for their drug use. There can be no doubt that criminalisation is the single most efficient producer of HIV and hepatitis C transmission amongst people who inject drugs, and lies behind our systemic exclusion from access to health care services.

The conclusion that “criminalization of drug use, restrictive drug policies and aggressive law enforcement practices are key drivers of HIV and hepatitis C epidemics among people who inject drugs” reached by the Consensus Statement “Science addressing drugs and HIV: State of the Art” presented at the High Level Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March of this year is borne out by all evidence. You cannot end HIV, HCV, or mass incarceration without ending the war on people who use drugs.

Why then, in spite of this abundance of evidence is the world locked into a system in which human rights violations, stigma, discrimination, isolation, HIV and hepatitis C are the norm for people who use drugs?

REMEMBER FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES LOST TO PROHIBITION.
DEMAND AN END TO DRUG WAR DEATHS.
SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS AND THEIR COMMUNITIES

The INPUD Statement for International Remembrance Day 2014 now has Russian/русский  and French/français translations and links (see below).

There is also a Facebook post which can easily be shared if you would like to do so:https://www.facebook.com/notes/inpud/inpud-statement-for-international-remembrance-day-21st-july-2014/702127876491356

Download the statement and poster:
English: www.inpud.net/INPUD_Statement_for_International_Remembrance_Day_21.7.14.pdf andwww.inpud.net/RemembranceDay2014_poster.pdf
русский: www.inpud.net/INPUD_pyc_Statement_for_International_Remembrance_Day_21.7.14.pdf
Français: www.inpud.net/INPUD_Declaration_pour_la_Journee_international_de_commemoration_21Juillet2014.pdf and www.inpud.net/JOURNEE_EN_MEMOIRE_2014.pdf

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To those who lost their lives in the Malaysian Airlines crash

Sunflower Field

Remembering those who died and our friends and colleagues enroute to the World AIDS Conference

INPUD sends its deepest condolences to all of those lost in the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine, yet another tragic consequence of Russia’s war on the country. That so many on the plane were en route to the International Aids conference makes the tragedy even more acute to us. Amongst the dead were Martine de Schutter, manager of the Bridging the Gaps – health and rights for key populations programme of which INPUD and the other global key population networks are a part. We send love and condolences to the family, loved ones, colleagues, and friends of all those lost in this appalling act of violence.

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Eliminating drug using women from the ultimate elimination statement!

Many of you have heard of places like Project Prevention in the USA, where women who use drugs are paid around $300 in cash to be sterilized, (far lesser amounts for choosing ordinary contraception) and we also know of women using drug’s being encouraged, cajoled, harassed, threatened and bullied into having abortions simply because of their drug use  – which can even be instigated or supported by various government agencies in some jurisdictions and institutions around the globe. The USA, Australia and Sweden are just a few of the more shiny but shameful  examples…..

Strong Women

A great picture from a feminist blog with some great imagery and text. Click for more info

So it was great to see this statement has been released below, BUT on reading through, it identifies population groups most affected, but then fails to mention women who use drugs?  How very disappointing! Please see below -
Regards,
Ruth Birgin from WHRIN (Women’s Harm Reduction International Network) – The address for the listserve and how to become a member of both WHRIN and INWUD (International Network of Women who Use Drugs will be appearing very shortly, so please check back)
NOTE: Thanks so much for this Ruth, in fact Project Prevention and its’ sister groups are so abhorrent and such is the extended, even open use and abuse of this tactic against women who use drugs, that to not find anything about this group within this document was nothing short of incredibly disappointing. Especially as it proclaims to be a concise inter agency document of some repute; alliances with OHCHR, UN Women, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO all worked on this publication. Grounded in ‘scientific evidence and drawing on lessons learnt from historical and contemporary practices’, this document is clearly carefully ‘anchored in international human rights norms and standards.’
So make no mistake, this is much needed piece of kit. It is in itself a new tool, a hammer blow that comes crashing down on any of the enforced sterilization ‘grey areas’ that exist in so many misogynistic and controlling, societies and communities and clearly states where the global face stands on these issues. As I said, much needed ammunition. The document also highlights much needed guiding principles for the prevention and elimination of coercive sterilization and also provides us with “recommendations for legal, policy and service-delivery actions”.
Yet, despite all this good stuff, it remains somewhat disappointing underneath because, while openly acknowledging disabled persons/women and girls, women living with HIV, ethnic and minority girls and women and transgender and intersex persons as the examples of persons most affected by such abhorrent practices of coerced/coercive sterilization, they left out us…
A glaring omission many would say as across the world women who use drugs are coerced, bullied, cajoled, abused, hit and harassed into not only sterilization, but enforced abortions, adoptions, fostering, and pre and post natal discrimination so intense that some women won’t even go to hospital to deliver their babies for fear of what may happen. (Project Prevention is  a project that is globally supported and growing and funded by hundreds of thousands of American dollars).
Just two days ago in full view of the media,  a Tennessee woman is the first to be charged under yet another harmful state law that specifically makes it a crime to take drugs while pregnant, calling it “assault.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is actively seeking to challenge the law, which they describe as raising “serious constitutional concerns regarding equal treatment under the law.”

Another law busting women who use drugs for having children. Coercive, enforced? Harmful discrimination? Judicial management of a woman’s right over her own body and that of being able to keep her child?

All this and more must signal work ahead for women’s rights and the urgent need to find entry points for changing our systems – work for us and many of us all to do.  This is why dear readers, when such a document as this global, respectable inter-agency one on enforced sterilization omits women who use drugs, it sets us back a few hard years unnecessarily. A few paragraphs acknowledging the reproductive reality for women who use drugs, on the streets, in rehabs, in boot-camps, in prisons, in misogynistic communities, and a few clear statements underlining our right to reproductive freedom, could be an even more unique and useful tool for us.
Because while we are essentially criminalized as illicit drug users, and then ignored or forgotten about (?) in important documents such as this one on such a crucial life subject as enforced sterilization, we will always be confronted with a smirk and a kind of ‘get out clause’ that governments and institutions can use to ignore or slip away from our attempts to challenge them on our own varied episodes of enforced sterilization, etc.
Thank you for spotting this Ruth from WHRIN. Contact them for further discussion on their forum and/or become a member. 
The document……

UN organizations call for an end to forced, coercive and involuntary sterilization

(Note: Yay UN! But…You forgot something essential dintcha?…..Erin)

Date: 18 June 2014
The World Health Organization (WHO), along with OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women, have issued a statement on Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization”. It reaffirms that sterilization as a method of contraception and family planning should be available, accessible to all, of good quality and free from discrimination, coercion and violence.
Sterilization is one of the most widely used forms of contraception in the world and, when performed according to appropriate standards, is an important option for individuals and couples to control their fertility. However, in some countries, people belonging to certain population groups, including people living with HIV, persons with disabilities, indigenous people’s and ethnic minorities, and transgender and intersex persons, continue to be sterilized without their full, free and informed consent. While both men and women are subject to such practices, women and girls continue to be disproportionately impacted.
The inter-agency statement highlights guiding principles for the prevention and elimination of coercive sterilization, and provides recommendations for legal, policy and service-delivery actions to ensure that the provision of procedures resulting in sterilization is based on the full, free and informed decision-making of the person concerned.
The document itself can be found here: Click here
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Now I did say I’d report back on our excursion into Iboga Nights…

Iboga Nights trailer from John Archer on Vimeo.

Last night, DG and I (see blog below for part one) cruised down to Russell Square in the centre of London, to see his own newly released documentary appear at London’s annual ‘Open City Docs Fest’. Now as I mentioned before, this is no ordinary documentary, by just any ordinary documentary film maker. David eats, sleeps and lives his films and this one was no different.

Iboga Nights, a film that is essentially a sequel to  a previous production filmed some ten years back for the BBC. His first foray into the sometimes bizarre but always intriguing world of ibogaine left him and his many thousands of fans and followers wanting more. It left David with many thousands of pleading, questioning and interrogating correspondence from people across the globe, needing answers to the many questions his film opened up.

Lasts night’s event was an intimate viewing of a film that gripped the attending audience. A Q and A session after the film gave people an opportunity to ask David about the three year project and the characters who took part in the film. Mostly however, people wanted to know what everyone wants to know about Ibogaine; its efficacy as a detoxification agent.

However, it was really interesting to witness most people in the audience being stunned into silence. Such was the effect of the highly contentious subject material and the many parts of the film that were not just highly gripping but were often very hard to watch, it left one feeling they had been on a journey to somewhere they didn’t know existed.

I will review the film after this blog entry but for now, as I have David sitting here in my garden, feeling slightly smug after just discovering his film had been shortlisted for best film out of 900 entries.

Not bad for an old junkie who suffered sidelining in the industry due to his former drug habit.

Over to you David….

” Three years of solid work and research went into the making of this film. I believe that working as a one man band as camera man and director lends a certain to Iboga Nights. I get deeply involved with the characters in the film and I hope this comes across to the viewer. Despite the fact that my voice guides or narrates the film, I feel it never overwhelms the true voice of those taking part in the film. This was essential because the film follows the subjects through one of the most intently personal and often extremely harrowing experiences of their lives. These fascinating individuals who gave me their time and let me into their lives, allowing me to film their most private moments, is what lent a real gravitas to the confusing ibogaine debate.”

David will write his own blog here to talk about how he went about making such a film including crowd-funding through social media in order to finance the film.

Thanks to the very talented David Graham Scott and a special thanks too, to those incredible and courageous drug users who, through their stories and lives laid bare, allow us all a deeper insight into Iboga.

AND GUESS WHAT???!!!! The winner of the Best UK Film Award category in the OPEN CITY DOCS FEST was Iboga Nights, directed by David Graham Scott. Giving the award, the jury said,
“With its spare yet telling portraits of people with desperate addictions, this compelling film brings the audience close to a very important issue.” The jury was also impressed by the strong personal mission of this fearlessly honest filmmaker. YAY David!!!!!

Erin and David.

David’s Vimeo page (where you can see part one to David’s Iboga film)

And a special article written by VICE magazine, interviewing David for more information

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An Evening with Iboga Nights

Well! Quite a festive evening occurring tonight folks!

The rumble from the jungle of deepest Africa, is tonite in film form. Iboga (the root behind the detox drug ibogaine) has woven its historic storyline year by year, day by enlightening day, into a new documentary  called Iboga Nights.

Ten years prior, the director and narrator of the film David Graham Scott, filmed what could be called part one of the Ibogaine story, Detox or Die (yes, we know it’s a rather dramatic title but it’s a really interesting film), and you can watch as David himself undergoes a real methadone detox on ibogaine, with a guide overseeing his journey.

Tonight, David has invited me to see the sequel, Iboga Nights. Filmed over three years, the film follows several drug users as they undergo ibogaine detoxes while David takes us on a journey to find the answers to the questions ibogaine and its ‘aura’ or scientific reasonings, had left him ruminating on during the last decade.

So, sitting here in my flat, dressed up with somewhere to go (for a change!) I have asked David Graham Scott what he thinks people will make of the film? After all, the audience will be participants in a documentary film festival in central London, people who may, or may not be, miles away from his subject material.

David says paces around my living trying to find the right words.

” Hmm, well, love it or hate it people are probably going to have a strong opinion of this film”.

We will report back, I will try and get David to write a few words himself, but for now, we have got to get our shoes on and grab our coats, and head to the city to see Iboga Nights tonight!

 

 

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INPUD’s New Page! Dates for your activists calender…

Hi readers,

These are a collection of dates in the months that re occur virtually every year. We have flagged up these days because they are some of, if not the most, important dates in the drug user activists calender. Some are INPUD’s special or preferred events, (there is a handful we try and pay special attention every year) and some are important reoccurring conferences, but all of them are days when we come together as activists and peers and talk, network, present, protest, peform etc.

International Women's Day

A Day like International Womens Day could be a great opportunity to share experiences with political, lobbying feminists while they get to understand women who use drugs can speak for themselves, and they ave a lot to say on a range of issues!

 Please click here for our page of relevent events for your activist calendar and check back as it grows. We will certainly inform you when and where INPUD is directly involved, usually through our blog updates or twitter feeds.

If you want something especially mentioned, please email us your event – via INPUD or in the comment box below. It would need to be of interest to the regional or international activist community and to occur every year or two, or three.

(If it is a national date or event the best method may be for you to raise your own written blog, flagging it up and providing details that we can publish about a month or two before it happens. However, if it is regional or global, and relevant to the drug users cause, we should be able to put it here. Let people know what’s happening in your country and region and help to support, lobby and publicize each others work and cause. And of course, don’t forget to send us pictures and text about the amazing day of protest you had or what you learnt or presented at an interesting conference. We would love to hear from you!

For the calender, click here or title bar at top of page.

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