Promoting health and human rights of vulnerable groups through education and technologies
WHO WE ARE
Skosh is a not-for-profit organization with a goal to promote health, justice, dignity and human rights in the area of drugs and drug policy through education, networking, and technological innovation. The organization is based in the Netherlands but works internationally, focusing on Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It aims to support community organizations in access to the latest international science and best practices and empower their participation in knowledge production and innovation.
WHAT WE DO
Eastern Europe and Central Asia share a common history regarding drug policy dating back to the Soviet era. In many ways the approach towards treatment and service of the user is rooted in practices of those time. The collapse of Soviet Union pushed ex-member countries to follow independent paths, yet the approaches remain alike to this day. Many countries of the region are currently experiencing shrinking of the democratic spaces for the civil society. The financial resources are narrowing, the international aid ceases gradually, while the local 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 organisations in their innovative work, by providing access to the latest research and technology. Skosh helps carrying out small-scale projects, by supporting innovative and brave initiatives of organisations located in the EECA region, as well as internationally.
Drug policy is one of the most controversial areas of public health and criminal justice globally. Currently, debates regarding illegal substance regulation are spurring all over the world. Countries come up with various solutions to this issue – such as legalising substances (such as marijuana in Uruguay and Canada), or making them available for medical purposes. In contrast, some governments decide on full prohibition and criminalisation of the people using them, while it is clear that this approach causes more harm as result. The creative work and exciting discussions surrounding models of regulation are at peak. We would like to contribute to these discussions – researching, exploring and proposing innovative practices, as well as including EECA regions where drug policy reform is low paced and silenced. Drug policy reform should aim at introducing new models of regulations, which prioritise; human rights, the well-being of individuals, and scientific progress.
At Skosh we believe that the rapidly developing technologies simplify access to health and human rights information, offering guidance and helpful tools. For marginalised populations such advances may compensate the lack of medical support, as well as combating diverse social stigmas. We consider that technological innovation should be more accessible to non-governmental organisations providing services for vulnerable and stigmatised groups – therefore, improving their operations, planning, monitoring and accountability. The latest developments in data science could become beneficial for academics and community researchers carrying out small-scale studies assessing the needs of their communities, and as result develop strategies to address them.
Beyond Resistance (completed in 2019)
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).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Website development and hosting for community organizations in EECA.
- Development of an integrative database for monitoring of health and human rights service provision
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.
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.
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.