By Olga Belyaeva

Belarus: “Your chance” NGO 

Quarantine in Belarus is still not officially declared. There is no practice of take-home prescriptions of OST drugs established in the country. During the last two days we have been working closely with the Ministry of Health in Belarus about the changes to existing clinical protocol of OST administration, which aims to improve access to the . 

On February 5, we filed a request to the first deputy Minister of Health about the need to adopt new regulations and clinical protocol for buprenorphine supply and administration. Now we have about 700 OST programme clients. The programme started in 2013 from 1048 patients, however, since 2015 the programme has been state-funded and the number of clients decreases every year. 

The key problems we are currently facing: long waiting lines at the OST sites; in some cases methadone is not transported to the local hospitals. There are no take-home OST prescriptions, the risk of losing one’s driving license and parental rights for being an OST patient is relatively high.  

Georgia: GeNPUD, members of the “Phoenix 2009” network, “Rubiconi”, and “New Vector” NGOs

On March 18th, all patients received OST drugs on-site, the first time everyone received drugs for 5 days. There has been no regular practice of at-home drug administration before. 

Activists have been negotiating with the Centre of Mental Health and Drug Use Prevention, which is in charge of all OST programme management in the country. Thanks to active cooperation of the PUD (people who use drugs) community and experts, people received their medication for home use. 

Moldova: Members of the “Together” community in Chisinau and “Pulse” initiative from Balti

In the cities of Chisinau, Balti, Falesti and Ungheni all OST patients receive one week supply of methadone for home use. In Chisinau patients also receive buprenorphine for 5 and more days of home use. OST sites work two times a week in Chisinau - starting March 23 - and in Balti since March 27. Patients are divided into two groups to minimize overcrowding at OST facilities. The PUD community continues close cooperation with medical staff. 

Shortage of the Methadone supply: quarantine has revealed the problem of medication supply shortage. Currently there is only enough medication in stock till the end of April. Tender has been conducted and the Italian company, because of the coronavirus epidemic can not ship the medication. After the community’s active involvement, the situation has been solved by signing the  emergency contract with the Ukrainian producer company. The local provider Sanfarm-Prim and the Ukrainian company still had to prepare necessary documentation to the medication shipping, which could have taken additional one and a half months. However, the working group has been created from the national OST programme representatives, Ministry of health officials, UN Office on Drugs and Crime experts. The necessary documents will be finalized during the next few days and OST medication will be shipped by plane from Ukraine to Moldova early in April. 

Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan Association of Harm Reduction (АССВ)

Kyrgyzstan has established a curfew and transportation is limited between the cities. Currently there are around 1000 OST patients, including 300 incarcerated people. The National Narcological Centre adopted a decree allowing all OST patients to receive their medication during any further coronavirus limitations, including a state of emergency. 

Since March 25, all OST programme clients received methadone for home use for 5 days, sites are open once a week. However, EHRA continues to receive applications from patients, who are not allowed to travel to another town to get their medication, and/or do not have a place to store it due to homelessness.