Drug Policy Reform in Thailand

assessing the Thai Harm Reduction Programme

Thailand recently plans major changes in its drug policy treating drug abuse increasingly as a health issue rather than a criminal offence. Measures to scale up and diversify voluntary and rights-based services to persons who inject drugs are foreseen, but processes to come from strategy to action take a long time and ownership for a comprehensive, human rights and needs based drug policy is still low among the crucial stakeholders.

Since 2015, Raks Thai Foundation is Principal Recipient of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Under the Stop TB and AIDS through RRTTR (STAR) Programme, the Harm Reduction programme is active in 12 provinces, providing drop-in centers, outreach activities, distribution of needles and syringes, information packages and condoms, referral to HIV and STI testing, and Methadone maintenance treatment for people who use drugs in Thailand.

The aim of the assessment mission, conducted by Patricia Kramarz and Susanne Schardt of Realitäten Bureau in January 2017, was to evaluate the current Harm Reduction services in Thailand and provide specific recommendations on the strengths and areas of improvements for drop-in centers, outreach activities, and the provision of community-led services for drug users.

The German Education System

Information visit of Ukrainian experts

In December, Realitäten Bureau organised and accompanied an information visit of Ukrainian government representatives, school principals, teachers, and coordinators from the regional education departments in the Oblasts Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhya. These experts are project partners of the GIZ project "HIV/AIDS advisory services and institutional capacity building". Susanne Schardt provides advisory services to this project since 2008.

The GIZ project cooperates with partners from the education system in implementing interactive methods for HIV prevention in schools. The current need form reforms and the EU rapprochement process in Ukraine prompted the project partners to seek more information about the education system in Germany. Topics during the information visit were the division of educational tasks between federal and state levels, the coordination and harmonization of different approaches, curricula development, as well as educational standards and school quality in Germany. Since the cooperation between government and civil society is still rare in Ukraine, this model was also presented and discussed during the visit.

Strengthening local partnerships

Susanne Schardt evaluates the involvement of integrated experts

German cities, communities and districts become increasingly active in development cooperation. They put their knowledge and experience in municipal provision of basic services to use in communities of the global South. Municipal partnerships help to develop sustainable networks, in which administra-tions, institutions, universities, schools, hospitals, communal enterprises, but also civil society organisations become engaged. Such partnerships are being supported by the "Servicestelle für Kommunen in der einen Welt" (SKEW) on behalf of the BMZ. The GIZ programme "Integrierte Fachkräfte für Kommunen weltweit" complements this support by placing integrated experts in municipal partnerships. This helps communities in partner countries of German development cooperation to utilize the value of their partner's knowledge and experience. It also intensifies mutual learning and common commitment within the framework of the "New Urban Agenda".

Susanne Schardt of Realitäten Bureau conducted numerous interviews with the involved actors to evaluate the added value of an integrated expert for the municipal partnerships and to give recommendations for a results-oriented continuation of the GIZ programme.

Opioid Substitution Therapy in Nepal

lessons from building a national programme

The German Health Practice Collection (GHPC) on the BMZ website recently published a case study that explores learnings generated during the establish-ment of Nepal’s national opioid substitution therapy (OST) programme, a process which has been led by the government of Nepal and Nepalese civil society organisations with support from international partners, such as the GIZ Harm Reduction Project in Nepal, lead by our team member Patricia Kramarz.

You may find the publication at the GHPC site


This isn't nice! - everyday life in outpatient care

the new book by Peter Klös and Bernard Simon

Ugliness, illness, old age with its various ailments are among the taboos of modern society. Getting old, being ill doesn't have any lobby in our modern world. Getting old is associated with costs - which the younger generation has to bear. Being old is a burden - not only for the elderly, but also for those who cannot imagine being old themselves some time. The authors Peter Klös and Bernard Simon have compiled only a small part of the wealth of funny and sad stories they are confronted with in their every-day work. The book opens a window into the reality of mobile outpatient care for the elderly in Germany in the year 2015. It paints 17 portraits of carers and those who are being cared for. This picture is being framed by additional chapters on the context of care in Germany spanning from legal and professional aspects across social recognition to management experiences.

The book has been published in German at Paolo Freire Verlag


Strengthening the Health System - Preventing HIV

Backstopping in the Ukraine

The spread of HIV continues to be a serious threat for Ukraine. The country has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Europe and more than 200,000 people live with the virus. Official statistics estimate that 57 new cases of HIV infection are diagnosed every day. But we have to reckon with a much higher unofficial number of cases. The armed conflicts in the Ukraine have weakened the Ukrainian health system and brought critical gaps to the light. So far, the conflict has taken a toll of more than 6,800 deaths and approx. 17,000 injured. In addition, the fragile situation in Eastern Ukraine resulted in as many as 1.5 million officially registered internally displaced people - however, the unofficial numbers are estimated to be much higher. In crises, instability and conflicts the risk of an HIV infection rises: people take more and higher risks, the willingness - and sometimes also the opportunities - to use condoms decreases, and mobile populations - including the many internally displaced people - generally have a higher risk of infection. Hence, the risk for a rise of the HIV epidemic in Ukraine is still high.

Against this background and within the EU association process, the Ukrainian government currently undergoes a reform of its education and health system. This reform - along with the second wave of the national HIV Prevention Campaign "Don't give AIDS a Chance" is supported by GIZ. Susanne Schardt has supported the GIZ project through numerous short-term consultancies and trainings in the past. Since January 2016, she cooperates closely and on a regular basis with the national project team of GIZ in Kiev.