The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has urged Poland to scale up access to antiretroviral therapy for drug users living with HIV and to increase the availability of substitute drug dependence treatment, especially for people in detention. The recommendations come on the heels of advocacy from IHRA and the Open Society Institute.

Last month, IHRA submitted a briefing to the committee that urged Poland "to improve access to Opioid Substitution Therapy in the country, and in particular in places of detention." The briefing highlighted Poland's obligations under Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognises "the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."

In its concluding observations, the CESCR stated, "The Committee is concerned at reports that only a small number of drug users have access to substitute drug dependence treatment, and that such treatment is even more limited for those in detention. (art 12) The Committee calls on the State party to adopt measures to ensure that effective treatment of drug dependence is made accessible to all, including to those in detention."

It went on to state, " While noting the programme on ‘Antiretroviral therapy for persons living with HIV in Poland (2005-2006)’, the Committee expresses its concern at reports of limited access to treatment by HIV patients, particularly among drug users, and at the absence of information on provision of treatment following the closing of the above-mentioned programme. (art. 12) The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to ensure that treatment and care be available to and accessible by persons living with HIV/AIDS and to provide alternative treatment possibilities after the ending of the programme on ‘Antiretroviral therapy for persons with HIV in Poland (2005-2006)’."

Anand Grover, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health, paid a visit to Poland at the beginning of May to examine ”sexual and reproductive health rights, HIV and harm reduction, drug dependence treatments and relevant laws, policies and practices, and their impact on the enjoyment of the right to health.” Following a series of field visits and meetings, the special rapporteur raised a number of concerns including the lack of available methadone maintenance treatment and some practices that restrict access to treatment.

See attached for the full Concluding Observations from the CESCR.

(Source: IHRAblog)