International seminar “Healthcare, legal and human rights” was organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia in Belgrade on September 28 2012 with the patronage of the General Secretary of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia.
The seminary was opened by the minister of health of Republic of Serbia, Prof. Dr. Slavica Djukic Dejanovic. As the priorities of the healthcare policy of the new cabinet of the Ministry of Health, she has declared: solidarity, focus on risk groups and chronic disease, particularly people living with HIV/AIDS. One of the problems of the healthcare system so far, minister Djukic Dejanovic presented the work of the public health institute – Batut, where the healthcare policies should be created, staffing needs met, required techniques applied, but that hasn’t been happening for years.
Along with the Minister of Health, and the Vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, the participants were welcomed by Dr. Dragan Delic, the President of the Health Council of Serbia, and the Director of the Clinic for Infectious and Tropic Diseases of the Clinic Center of Serbia. Several patient organizations took part in the seminary. Representatives of the Q-Club were Nada Micic and Bratislav Prokic.
The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Perisa Simonovic, presented the draft of the new Patient Rights bill, which will soon be available on the website of the ministry. He called for a debate regarding further development of the bill.
Particularly interesting was the lecture of the Chairmen of the Ethics Committee of the Doctors’ Society of Serbia, Dr. Paja Momcilov. He spoke about rights of the patients, but also about rights of doctors. “The Doctor-Patient relationship must be based on trust, and without that any discussions on laws and rights are in vain.” Dr. Paja Momcilov presented the problem of unsuccessful reforms and lack of integration in our healthcare system – since it is divided into three separate and closed systems: military, public and private. His example of bad treatment were figures on mortality rates in cancer patients – the global trend is that 1/3 of cancer patients die, while the trend in Serbia is that only 1/3 of patients survives their treatment.
A three day regional training for organizers of „Living libraries“ took place in Šabac. The training was supported by the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, and the Office of the Commisioner for protection of Equaltiy of Serbia, and organized by Duga Association, which has been working on improving quality of life of LGBT people mostly in West and Central Serbia.
The „Living library“ gathers people who are often victims of discrimination, prejudices and stereotypes. They become „living books“ that the „readers“ can „lend“ and go into a real dialogue. The books can present their own experiences, answer questions, but also ask quesitons ald learn.
The idea of „Living libraries“ was originally developed by the Danish yout initiative „Stop the Violence“ (Forefinger Stop Volden) in 2000. The European Youth Center in Budapest recognised the potential of this method of prevention of violence with young people. In 2002, the methodology of „Living libraries“ became an integral part of the youth program of the Council of Europe in the Human Rights learning programs.
This training for „Living libraries“ in Šabac was attended by representatives of several organizations and public institutions from Serbia. Representative of the Q-Club was Bratislav Prokic. After the training, the participants took part in a simulation of a “Living library”, where a few dozen “readers” expressed extreme satisfaction with the “living books” they read.
We hope that participants of this training will be successful organizers of “Living libraries” in their cities, and that they will use these valuable experiences for improving human rights in Serbia.
Seminary on criminalization of non-detection of HIV status, potential risks and non-intentional HIV transmission took place in Berlin on September 20 2012. The Seminary was organized by Deutche AIDS Hilfe, EATG, IPPF and HIV. More than 150 legal experts and activists from all over Europe came together to have a comprehensive overview of the problems regarding criminalization of HIV infection and to contribute to developing policies and guidelines. Several panelists had presentations on the meeting: Edwin Bernard (HIV justice), Cristoph Hamelman (UNDP), Susan Timberlake (UNAIDS), Ninoslav Mladenović (EATG), and one of the most interesting was a presentation by Luis Gay, Norwegian activist and blogger, who was himself legally charged for transmitting HIV infection – he shared his touching story with other participants.
The main conclusion of the seminar was that the only intentional HIV transmission could be justly criminalized, while all the other cases legal actions have no justification. Intentions of the policy makers for protecting the public health by imposing such radical legal measures are not supported by evidence.
Thus they become senseless and they should be altered, because this way they contribute to spreading the infection and late detection.
The seminar took place in Rotes Rathause, the City Hall of Berlin, a historic building that hosted the Berlin Congress of 1878, and the participants were welcomed by the Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit. Representative of the Q-Club was Nenad Petkovic.
The National Patients’ Organization of Bulgaria organized the First Conference on Health Inequalities in the New Member States with the support of the European Patients’ Forum and the ministry of Health of Bulgaria. The conference was held Sofia from 19. to 21. September. Health inequalities are recognized as a major problem throughout Europe, exacerbated by the current financial crisis.
The conference has gathered representatives of all healthcare stakeholder groups – policy makers and government officials, public health institutions, experts, doctors and other care providers, pharmacists, patients and journalists from the twelve new member states and five candidate and acceding countries. For the first time a Conference will address the challenge of health inequalities in the Southeastern region from the specific perspective of European and national policy makers as well as patients. Representing our Q-Club on the conference was Rade Kuzmanovic.
During the first day the conference participants had an opportunity to learn about some key problems healthcare in these countries face, but also to hear some good practices on how some of those problems were solved. Every talk was followed by a moderated discussion directed at discussing needs and gaps in national healthcare systems.
The second day was marked by workgroups during which the participants could contribute to finding solutions and forming proposals for some of the recognized problems. The topics of the workshops were “Meeting the real needs of patients”, “Policy making and institution reaction to curb health inequalities in the new EU member states in the next 5 years”, “How patients could be involved further in fighting against health inequalities in the new EU member states”.
The First Declaration on curbing health inequalities came out as a result of the discussions and the workgroups.
The Visit of the Delegation of the Global Fund was lead by Mr. Joshua Metcalf-Wallach, portfolio manager of the Fund for projects on prevention of tuberculosis and HIV, in charge for countries of West Balkan that receive support from the Global Fund.
On the meeting that lasted for almost three hours, the team of the Global Fund was introduced to the activities of Q-Club, and expressed a positive attitude about activities of our organization. That was the reason for choosing Q-Club as a part of their visits in the West Balkan region.
During this intensive meeting, representatives of Q-Club introduced the situation about HIV/AIDS in Serbia, functioning of projects supported by the Global Fund, and work of the CCM and some other institutions and organizations involved in the national response to HIV, particularly with the position of people living with HIV in Serbia.
Q-Club has been involved in programmes of the Global Fund and will continue to work their implementation with respect to the significance of the benefit the Global Fund brings to the countries which couldn’t adequately respond to HIV/AIDS challenges on their own.