Custom Search

Jan 8, 2008

Part 4. Theory and practice: 1st Civil Society Forum on Drugs, the role of INPUD, and the possibilities of the Forum

The text below is only a part of the whole document. Although each part is published under a separate link, all of them should be considered as different chapters of one and the same document.

Part 4. Theory and practice:

1st Civil Society Forum on Drugs, the role of INPUD, and the possibilities of the Forum


The current EU Strategy on Drugs is valid until 2012. The current Action Plan, 2005-2008 has three years to secure the implementation of the Strategy and one year – 2008 – when the progress at both national and EU level will be evaluated and the next Action Plan (2009 - 2012) will be developed and adopted.

The Forum should be regarded as an event with historical importance. As such, practical changes, influenced by our work at the Forum, would be possible in years. Consequently, for the coming years our main goal will be to establish as traditions:

The participation of the People Who Use Drugs as a full-right member in the experts' team;

The recognition of the People Who Use Drugs as an important stake-holder in the drugs-policy debate;

The acknowledgment of the People Who Use Drugs as an equal reliable partner.

At each meeting of the Forum, we will also make sure that the recommendations for amendments in the EU legislation papers that might enable our peers advocate for more effective drugs policies at national level are included in the final outcomes.

Qualitative vs Quantitative

The current EU Action Plan contains almost 100 different objectives and at least twice more concrete tasks for the EU member states to achieve.

The assessment tools and indicators the EU Action Plan appoints are mainly (if not all) quantitative.

Practical example: the EU member-states report on their progress in prevention by quoting only the number of the implemented prevention programs. This allows the EU member-states' governments to report highest efficiency without even being aware of the practical results of their policy. More over, reporting on the efficiency and the sustainability of the programs appears to be non-beneficial and therefore is neglected.

The current quantitative indicators, set by the Action Plan, make the objective progress-evaluation reports of the EC impossible. Consequently, through the EU Council, the EU member states will work against including qualitative indicators in the EU Action Plans.

The qualitative indicators may also empower the Civil Society Organizations, working at local and national level. Apart from a more objective progress-evaluation, the qualitative indicators may also provide a reliable advocacy information. INPUD first recommendation to the EC as a Forum-member is to persist in proposing qualitative indicators as amendments to the Action Plan.


The Drug Users' Community is not mentioned at all in the current Action Plan. Therefore, our topmost priority is to start with aggressive evidence-based advocacy for separating the Drugs Users as an important stake-holder in the implementation of the national policies on drugs. No improvements in the area are possible until our needs, opinion, and evaluation of the results are not taken into consideration.

Once the need for cooperation between the decision-makers, the professionals/service providers, and the DU Community is acknowledged and officially recommended, INPUD can start working for adopting the changes that will enable practical improvements in the national policies on drugs.

The current Action Plan sets framework of well defined objectives but a wrong approach to their implementation and progress reports. The very first change INPUD will advocate for will aim mainly at directing the EU drugs policies to the correct starting point. As a practical change this means to replace “the number of the programs implemented- the main evaluation tool in the current Action Plan - with the appointed below set of indicators. This will secure the implementation of the most effective and efficient treatment and harm reduction programs, in regards with the realistic possibilities the UN Conventions on Narcotic Drugs allow.

The set of indicators should oblige the governments to report also on:

Needs assessmentIf needs of the clients and the best solutions are not carefully studied and evaluated the new program is doomed to failure and from the very beginning it is a waste of money and time. More over, the implementation of effective programs is often impossible because few other programs already work, although inefficiently, in the area.

Equal access to the program, secure coverage of the hidden populations and marginalized groups, work in direction of capacity buildingto enable sustainability each one of these aspects should be considered when a program is to be opened.

Impact over the estimated curves of the patterns and types of drugs use, of blood born diseases' transmissions, etc, e.g. back up information from the community regarding the practical results of the programas obvious, the only objective evaluation of the implemented programs is their practical results in the DU community and the information for that can be given only by the people from the community.

The number of the programs If all recommended above is taken into consideration, the number of the programs in the area is also important indicator. Still, if the governments are requested to report annually on the number of the implemented programs, their most beneficial approach is each year to open as many programs as possible and disregard their sustainability. If the indicator differentiates two different categories – the number of the newly implemented programs together with the number of the previously opened and still operating programs, before opening a new program, the governments will have to evaluate in details the needs, to provide high efficiency, cost effectiveness, and the capacity-building in order to ensure the sustainability of the newly opened program. Thus will redirect the focus from opening unnecessary programs to the aggregate effectiveness of the programsa fundamental condition for improvements in the national policies on drugs.

As said, if the above appointed recommendations are adopted as amendments to the Action Plan, the EU policies on drugs will be placed at a right starting point. Meanwhile, radical changes and substantial improvements at national level will be enabled. Inevitably new, unforeseen at present, problems and obstacles will occur. INPUD long term advocacy goals might be determined only when the first practical results are analyzed and evaluated.


Blog Directory - Blogged