On August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day, Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN), Harm Reduction Coalition (USA), Harm Reduction International (HRI) and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) called for the WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to mobilize their efforts and play a leading role in a coordinated global response to drug overdose mortality.

In their letter, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) asked the WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS and the Global Fund to organize a meeting that will provide experts of international organizations and leading NGOs with an opportunity to discuss the scale of the global overdose burden and consolidate their efforts to improve the public health response to overdose mortality.

Overdose is a major cause of preventable death in many regions of the world. In Information Note: Harm Reduction for People Who Use Drugs, the Global Fund encourages countries to consider including training on overdose prevention and low-threshold provision of naloxone in their proposals. However, there is a lack of internationally accepted guidelines on community-based overdose prevention, overdose surveillance, and/or the strengthening of health systems’ capacity to address fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

In response to this situation, from March to July 2011, EHRN carried out an overdose mapping study in the following 12 Eastern European and Central Asian countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Estonia. Based upon the findings of this study, yesterday, on International Overdose Awareness Day, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network launched a CALL FOR ACTION and proposed measures that need to be taken in response to the overdose burden in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.