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Restrictions on movements and face-to-face contacts as well as the destruction caused by an earthquake in Zagreb city are major challenges for the Life Quality Improvement Organisation FLIGHT. With pass permits the NGO staff can continue its outreach work but they fear reduced funding by the Croatian Ministry of Health.

We are here as all across Europe struggling to stay opened for our clients; drop in centres got closed for longer stays so clients only get in if allowed by local authority or get material over the window, many of them are making reserves- taking 4-6 boxes, actually this week it seems that they started to get out more (due to nice weather) though we dont have a police hour or similar. My organisation is providing mobile outreach so we need passes to go outside Zagreb. We had to stop for 8 days because we also had an earththquake and aftershocks in Zagreb.

There is a lot of stress in overall population. Not to mention our clients. There are problems with finding drugs due to closed borders so we noticed a slight increase in robbing pharmacies.

OST is still being distributed but max for 2-3 days. Some NGOs suggested we should lobby for 2 weeks (each patient can get OST once per year for 2 weeks for holidays) but this way doctors can actually see them more often- mostly now via windows. Croatia has an unique system of OST distributed by primary care doctors and they are reluctant to have bigger amounts of OST in their practices.

Not to mention that we dont know when the rest of our funding from Ministry of Health (20% of annual grants) will be paid because all payments from the government side are shut for 3 months at least.

Many local authorities decided not to fund NGOs this year.

So our network (5 harm reduction NGOs) made a plan how to survive, calculating all the commodities we have, if needed we will support each other…
But the biggest concern are trained and skilled outreach workers that will leave us once we dont have anymore funding for their salaries and as mentioned before: all of these made an impact on general population and their mental health so I am afraid and concerned for our clients.

Centre of Zagreb is ruined, hundreds of buildings so we expect a raise in number of homeless people (currently they are in student dorms but only until Sept).
So many challenges….and harm reduction is not something that our government is making a priority.

This article was submitted by Iva Jovović, and was first uploaded to the HARM REDUCTION COVID-19 RESPONSE website of Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network. We thank Correlation for contacting FLIGHT and making it possible to present their actions also on the Save Lives- Protect People platform.


Contact: 

Life Quality Improvement Organisation FLIGHT
Ratarska 7, Zagreb
Hrvatska
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+385 (0)1 5803726

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