Side event: The response to drug use related problems among vulnerable populations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay

Ambassador Rafael Grossi, : We have specific problems in our region and have addressed them specifically, which is why I’m happy to introduce my colleagues.

Roberto Moro, SEDRONAR, Argentina: We started in Argentina an organisation because we needed scientific information to compile information. We started the Observatory for this purposes. The goal was to make sure that we had the means to operationalise the strategy in our country to prioritise areas were the focus needs to lie. We started a national plan for the provinces. We have put together a council with civil society organisations in order to make sure there’s close cooperation with local authorities. We were able to make a list of priorities and after our study of the situation of drug consumption, we realise we have a major problem: vulnerable areas were consumption was high. But also areas were there’s less presence of the State and its bodies. So it was important to differentiate our action according to local needs. With civil society organisations, we started to cooperate based on the idea to centralise the resources and cooperate with everyone. For 10 years, we have seen that the situation has really worsened. And starting from this point we started to draw different programmes with the communities, civil society sector; and thus, be able to provide services 24/7 in vulnerable areas. We cooperate with these organisations with a methodology that allows us to measure the result. We have introduced a school for the training of cooperation. And we started integrating 35 organisations at the very beginning. We work in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Tierra de Fuego, Tucumán. We have distributed our groups all over the country, making sure the working method is the same. We support them to make sure they work properly in these areas. I already mentioned we have tried to get data and make sure that other civil society organisations are integrated. Of course, the idea is to centralise management and to diminish the drug dealing in general. Therefore, for us, it has been important to cooperate with our brothers here in the panel to have bilateral and multilateral meeting specific to the region. With CICAD and OPS, making sure we’re also conducting the right actions to make sure the strategies are effective. (…) We have realised trainings in schools to make sure that everyone is specially trained, that there is therapeutic services and care in the community. Another model of work has to do with harmonising bodies to make sure we all have the same vision in primary care. In this second period, that we start this year, we want to work and strengthen these devices to then strengthen treatment services. It’s fundamental for us to work with the community, they sometimes give responses when the State is absent. If we can coordinate with the State, universities, it works even better, because there’s a methodology, a process, an evaluation, etc. The Observatory is central, because it centralises capacities, identifies gaps, provides data and information. In one year  we have achieved significant results. We also wanted to respond to the treatment of women with children. Argentina doesn’t have responses for them. So we designed a programme under SEDRONAR to respond in a targeted and clear fashion. We are learning on a regular basis because this response is complex; the Justice authorities sometimes remove children from their mothers. When we work with a gender perspective, we coordinate between Health and Justice, so it’s beneficial in different ways. We offer to all therapeutic centres an extra support (50%) to spaces that deal with women with children. We want to stimulate this response. To conclude, because I have to share my time, I thank you because we appreciate these spaces. We work well with our neighbours, because that’s the idea. I invite you all to work, as a global team, to offer rights to people who use drugs and have issues with their consumption. We have more lacunae than certainties…and those lacunae can be mitigated by talking to our colleagues from other countries. Hence the richness of cooperation.

Natalia Gurget do Carmo, SENAD, Brazil: I will present you two cases that focus on vulnerable populations in Brazil. The two projects concern services of care in therapeutic community, and the project of social insertion. In terms of therapeutic communities (private therapeutic institutions funded by government). They are open institutions, with volunteers, aimed at people who want a protected space to recover. The host time can last up to 12 months. Residents must maintain their treatment in the network of psychosocial care and other health services as necessary. Significant increase of SENAD support to therapeutic communities expected for 2019. The social integration projects offers inter-sectorial initiatives that seek to integrate and address socially vulnerable people with issues related to the consumption of crack, alcohol and other drugs. (…)

Rodrigo Zárate, SENDA, Chile: In Chile, there’s a large index of inequality. We have a series of treatment programs for different populations. For adults, young people (children and adolescents), divided between people in general and specifically with people in conflict with the law. In terms of the vulnerable population, especially the population in the street, in conflict with justice and adolescents with infraction. It is most of the work. Transversal to all this, the quality unit that identifies factors that favor the effectiveness and quality of interventions. On the SENDA website, there is a program inventory that shows the number of centers and people served. We have doubled the number of people served. Then there is a focus on social integration. The integration work implies a diagnosis of social needs, linked to a methodological portfolio of skills for employability and social integration. We have to support this housing support for integration, socio-labor guidance services and articulation of relevant networks. The idea is that people are supported to avoid relapse and recovery. The State is a fundamental ally to transform and sensitize the context, and creates the conditions to favor recovery. One of the lessons has to do with intersectoriality. Work with the health sector, education, work, social protection, justice and recreation / culture.

Diego Olivera, Uruguay: It is a challenge to find points in common, but important. We want to start by defining social vulnerability. Social and structural conditions that cause a population to be exposed differentially more than others to vulnerabilities. It has to do with what states do or do not do to reduce risks. What can drug policy contribute to a treatment framework for vulnerable people? The recognition that a very orthodox version of prohibitionnist/pro-abstention is harmful, the ability to address the damage to victims of stigmatization and discrimination, the perspective of SDGs and human rights as appropriate conceptual frameworks for this approach. How do we do it in Uruguay? Political coordination with inter-institutional governance. The National Board of Drugs, coordinating body, involves 9 ministries. Drug policy can not be considered in parallel to the social care policy. We have created an integrated health system. Approval of a mental health law that reviews an outdated paradigm. (…) Reform of criminal justice. An accusatory system with emphasis on the alternative to incarceration. Mobile care units. The drug control regime, when centred on repression and prohibition, has failed to address the needs of vulnerable populations. The understanding of drug use as a threat, needs to be replaced with one that focus on care and support.

Moderator: Elizabeth Saenz, Drug Prevention Section, UNODC.


Question: Until recently, we had a partnership with SENAD. We had a project that was recognised at the national level but no longer. My question is: In terms of therapeutic communities. My state has 3 millions people. There’s 1 therapeutic community. In terms of prevention, we had 3 projects with SENAD and UNODC (Natal, Mosoró, Paramabirí). Funding has ended. What’s going to happen?
Response: Our Secretary is here and could respond. I’d be glad to respond. I am in charge of research. We can chat with the Secretary.
Response – Diego Olivera: Without wanting to impinge on other countries, I want to say that it’s important to have specific interventions, but also that general services can include people who are vulnerable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.