Promoting health and human rights of vulnerable groups through education and technologies
About us
Skosh is a non-for-profit organization with the aim to promote health, justice, dignity, human rights in the area of drugs and drug policy as well as HIV through education, networking, and access to the latest scientific evidence and technological innovation. The organization is based in the Netherlands but works internationally with the specific focus on the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as it aims to share and promote the latest available knowledge and best practices in the area of drug policy and drugs services for the organizations and activists working in the region.
The countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have a common history going back to the Soviet past and in many ways their approaches in the field of drug policy, drug treatment and drug services are rooted in this past. While after the breakdown of the Soviet Union the countries have taken different paths in their development, many approaches are still similar. Many countries of the region are currently experiencing shrinking of the democratic spaces for the civil society. The financial resources are also slimming: the international aid ceases gradually, while the local financial support to evidence-based interventions, such as harm reduction programs is lacking. NGOs in the region are loosing access to information, exchange and education. Skosh aims to support activists and organizations in their established and innovative work and provide access to the latest research, best practice and innovative ideas and technologies developed in other countries. Skosh aims to carry out small-scale specific projects aimed at supporting innovative and brave initiatives of the community organizations from the countries of EECA region as well as internationally.
Why drug policy?
Drug policy is one of the most controversial areas of public health and criminal justice in all the societies of the world. Today, debates around different approaches to regulating currently illegal drugs are spurring all over the world. Different countries come up with different solutions – from legalizing various currently illegal substances (such as marijuana legalization in Uruguay and Canada) to making them available for medical purposes to fully prohibiting the use of certain substances and criminalizing people who use them. While it is currently already clear, that the latter approach may cause more harm than good, the creative work and exciting discussions around different models of regulation are on the peak. We would like to contribute to these discussions, research and explore and promote innovative practices including in the region of EECA where drug policy reform still has a very slow pace and quiet voice. We believe that drug policy reform should aim to introduce new models of regulations that would help to protect people's health and human rights, and that would not inhibit scientific progress, but contribute to it.
Why technologies and innovation?
New technologies are developing rapidly in the area of health. At Skosh we believe new technologies can help to improve access to health and human rights information and advise and the tools to protect both. For the criminalized and marginalized populations such technologies and new ways of informational exchange may compensate for lack of medical help and public stigma.
We also believe that technological innovation should be made more accessible to non-governmental organizations that provide services to vulnerable and stigmatized groups in order to improve their operations, planning, monitoring and accountability. The latest developments in data science should become beneficial for academics and community researchers from the region that carry out small-scale research in order to assess needs of their communities and develop strategies to address them. There are many ways by which the increasing technological progress could contribute to improving health and human rights of underserved and marginalized populations and these ways should be explored and utilized.

Mikhail Golichenko
Mikhail Golichenko is a long-term advocate for legal reform and human rights based public health in EECA. He is a senior policy analyst at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network where he leads the research and advocacy work in Russian-speaking countries, with a particular focus on drug policy issues. He has authored several publications on civil litigation issues in Russia.

Previously, Mikhail was a Legal Officer with the UNODC Country Office for the Russian Federation in Moscow, where his work focused on the promotion of human rights and addressing legal barriers to effective HIV/AIDS prevention
and care programs for prisoners and people who inject drugs.

He has also worked for the UN Peacekeeping in West Africa and the Russian police service. Mikhail holds a Candidate of Sciences degree (PhD equivalent) in Russian Civil Law from Saratov State Academy of Law and an LL.M. in Canadian Common Law from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. He has been a member of the Russian Bar Association since 2007.


Jean-Paul Grund
Jean-Paul Grund has published extensively on drug culture, the diffusion of drug trends, HIV and other drug related morbidity, drug policy, peer-driven harm reduction approaches and the self-regulation of psychoactive substance use. His current interests include homemade drugs (e.g. Russian "Krokodil," Czech "Pervitin"), new psychoactive substances (NPS or "legal highs"), online drug commerce and the influence of technology on drug markets, consumption and policy. He is project leader and research coordinator of multiple projects on drug use in both recreational consumers and vulnerable populations.

As the founding director of the International Harm Reduction Development program of the Open Society Institute and as Technical Advisor at UNAIDS, he worked with NGO's, state agencies and policy makers on developing the first HIV prevention and harm reduction responses to the syndemic of drug injecting, infectious diseases and social upheaval in Central Europe, Russia and the Newly Independent States.


Our projects

Beyond Resistance

This project is carried out with the support of the Dutch organization AFEW International and aims to build capacity of the civil society organizations in the EECA region and maintain and secure the progress we made in the last decades on health and rights for people who use drugs and other marginalized groups. This project aims to keep communities and organizations strong, to support them in their highly demanding context and build on what is going right by:
1. Developing and exchange best practices on grass root human rights interventions for PWUD in EECA through convening where at least six delegates from different countries come together to exchange and learn. Apart from the best practices exchange the convening will provide a platform for NGO's to find pragmatic ways of working in closing societies and identifying promising strategies for funding harm reduction and human rights interventions in closed spaces.
2. Supporting and strengthening NGOs in the EECA region that deliver grassroots human rights and (para) legal interventions for PWUD in closing spaces by provision of technical assistance and networking.

Migrants Health

This project is carried out within the Bridging the Gaps program supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the scope of the regional work of Bridging the Gaps labor migrants who are using drugs have been identified as a group that is very hard to reach with health messages and interventions. They are also denied access to health care by authorities and often criminalized. These groups have proven to be overly vulnerable for HIV, viral Hepatitis and TB in their countries of origin. The combination of
vulnerability and denial can cause an explosive situation. In the regional approach, we want to raise attention for these groups and see if we can pilot interventions in the region that can reach them. The first step is to know more about key populations that go on labor migration, with an emphasis on people who use drugs. In 2017 Skosh will participate in the assessment that includes a survey with 1500 PWUD in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, asking about knowledge on HIV, drug use, access to services etc. and 15 in-depth interviews carried out in Saint Petersburg (Russia) and Moscow (Russia)
and in Almaty (Kazakhstan).

Our partners

AFEW International
works in public health and contributes to a healthy society with healthy individuals and specifically healthy key populations at risk for HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and other public health concerns in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA.) A healthy society contributes to a strong and stable EECA and results in the region with economic growth, political stability, a higher quality of life and the right to health for everyone. By providing support and empowering the societies in EECA, we contribute to better chances for all, and we support the future of the region.

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
is Canada's leading advocacy organization working on the legal and human rights issues raised by HIV and AIDS. The organization actively promotes the human rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, in Canada and internationally, through research, analysis, public education and community mobilization. The organization was founded in Montreal, Canada in 1992 by human rights lawyers Ralf Jürgens, David Patterson, David Thompson and Norman Halde. It is currently located in Toronto, Canada.

Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice
ARF is a grass-roots organization from Moscow, Russia with the mission to promote and develop humane drug policy based on tolerance, protection of health, dignity and human rights. The Foundation engages in 4 key strategies to advance its mission: advocacy, watchdog, service provision and capacity building of affected communities and individuals.

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SKOSH 2017
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