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Strategies for Addressing the Health Consequences of Drug Use in Roma Communities

September 25 - 27, 2008

Sofia, Bulgaria

Background and Purpose:
In 2007, the Open Society Institute's (OSI) Roma Health Project (RHP) and International Harm Reduction Development Program (IHRD) collaborated to organize a discussion and debate on the issue of drug use in Roma communities. Participants included harm reduction grantees as well as Roma leaders from across Europe. The goal was to debunk many of the myths about Roma and drug use and to explore how best to address a growing issue without increasing rampant discrimination against Roma. This seminar will move a step further to target NGOs and health officials in order to increase knowledge on how to establish harm reduction services appropriate to Roma and other minority communities. 
The seminar program will last approximately 3 days and will be structured primarily as a technical training designed to provide participants with a variety of strategies and program models for incorporating, increasing, and/or improving their harm reduction services for Roma clients. The meeting program will include interactive skills-building sessions, site visits to harm reduction projects working with Roma, presentations and panel discussions by representatives of harm reduction organizations currently working in Roma communities, and time for networking.
Local Host Organization: Initiative for Health Foundation (IHF)
1. Learn about harm reduction and the philosophy and core services that are the foundation of this practical, human rights-based approach to working with people who use drugs;
2. Learn about strategies and program models for incorporating appropriate harm reduction services into current work with Roma communities;
3. Provide a collegial forum for learning and sharing ideas about introducing harm reduction to Roma clients and communities;
4. Meet and network with colleagues who are providing or who are interested in providing harm reduction services in Roma communities;
5. Create organization-specific action plans for incorporating harm reduction or improving current harm reduction services available to Roma clients.