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This edition of the EHRN newsletter is devoted to Hepatitis C topic. In the content you will find overview on the global movement towards access to hepatirtis C treatment, data from hepatitis C treatment mapping in EECA, presentation of regional and national advocacy campaign, example of good price reduction practice in Egypt.  EHRN’s newsletter „The Voice of Harm Reduction“ is a tool for our members to network, exchange best practices, promote successes and advocate for what we collectively consider the most urgent regional matters related to harm reduction and drug policy in CEECA.

Ocheret Dasha, Bikmukhametov Damir, Sultangaziev Aibar, Matuizaite Erika. Current situation regarding access to hepatitis C treatment in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (2013). Vilnius: Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN).

This policy brief summarizes key findings from an assessment of hepatitis C treatment accessibility in EECA undertaken by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN). It also refers to recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) on how to support national governments and affected communities in order to improve hepatitis C treatment access. The EHRN mapping was conducted in October- December 2011 in six countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA): Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine. The main goal of the mapping was to assess access to pegylated interferon and ribavirin, a combination that at the time of the mapping was the internationally recognized standard for hepatitis C treatment. Each chapter offers recommendations on overcoming specific barriers to treatment.

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) developed this tool specifically for use by people living with hepatitis C, including community groups working with and on their behalf; the staff and volunteers of harm reduction programs; and healthcare providers. The tool aims to help intended users to evaluate the degree to which their countries' national programs on viral hepatitis C—or programs that contain sections on hepatitis C—comply with international best practices, particularly, in regards to monitoring, treatment and care. The results of such evaluations can be used to provide recommendation for developing a national policy on hepatitis C, or for improving an already existing strategy or program.

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) developed this tool specifically for people living with hepatitis C (including community groups working with and for them) and activists focusing on issues related to access to essential medicines. The tool aims to help intended users assess the hepatitis C treatment situation in their countries, especially with regard to cost and availability of the medicines. The results of such assessments can be used to provide suggestions to government bodies and for preparing for negotiations with pharmaceutical companies in order to reduce the prices of hepatitis C drugs.

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) developed this tool specifically for people living with hepatitis C, including community groups working with and on their behalf; the staff and volunteers of harm reduction programs; and medical specialists.  The purpose of this tool is to help intended users to evaluate the degree to which their countries' clinical protocols for hepatitis C treatment comply with international best practices. The results of such evaluations can be used to provide suggestions for developing national protocols for chronic hepatitis C treatment, or for improving already existing national protocols.

On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, the community of people living with Hepatitis C, their families and the NGOs working on access to treatment worldwide call on F. Hoffmann-La Roche to reduce the price of Pegasys to $2000 for a 48-week treatment course, making this lifesaving drug affordable for the thousands of people around the world awaiting treatment for hepatitis C.

On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, the community of people living with Hepatitis C, their families and the NGOs working on access to treatment worldwide call on the World Health Organization to assume leadership in ensuring universal access to hepatitis C treatment by providing technical support to the Member States in developing effective national hepatitis C programs and by adding pegylated interferon to the WHO Essential Medicines List and the WHO list of prequalified medicinal products to enable further price reduction.

Globally, between 130-170 million people are chronically infected with HCV. Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) have carried the brunt of HCV infections with approximately 10 million people living with HCV in the region.  This statement calls on treatment activists to demand affordable and accessible HCV treatment, to put pressure on their governments to develop and implement a national HCV program and to demand that WHO take the lead in making HCV treatment universally available.  Finally, it calls on activists to educate themselves on intellectual property legislation to facilitate registration of generic HCV drugs as they become available.

In this open statement the community of OST patients and people who use drugs from Eastern Europe and Central Asia make an appeal to their governments and international organizations, asking to facilitate the adoption of humane drug policies and laws that protect the rights of people who use drugs and contribute to achieving universal access to HIV prevention and treatment in the region.  A set of recommendations includes abolishment of criminal and administrative penalties for drug possession for personal use, greater involvement of affected communities in the development of policies on HIV and drug use, and promoting legislation that ensures access to clean needles and opiate substitution treatment.

In March-July 2011, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) carried out a drug overdose overview in 12 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Estonia.  The Call for Action is based on the recommendations that were developed as part of this overview as well as on the conclusions and recommendations of the earlier overdose studies in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and beyond.

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