Project news

20 December, 2016. A press release: 20 positive HIV test results per week. During the European HIV testing week, which took place in November, there were 20 positive HIV test cases in Lithuania. Compared with last years’ campaign, this number increased twice. Low-threshold rooms and other drug use harm reduction services can help to successfully prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS!

14 December, 2016. Meeting with the Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius on cooperation in regional conference. The Cialition “I Can Live” together with “Eurasian Harm Reduction Network” met with Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius to discuss the cooperation possibilities during the Regional conference “Harm reduction in the new environment”, which will take place in April 2017 in Vilnius. The Mayor promised that Vilnius municipality will participate in this important event. More about the conference:

8 December, 2016. Low-threshold services providers – at a round table discussion. We spent 2 days sharing our troubles and hopes together with the NSP providers at the round table discussion. The main subjects were the lack of harm reduction funding and possibilities to improve the health and social services for drug users. Together with: Red Cross Visaginas, Vilnius Centre for Additive Disorders, Association Demetra,  Drug, tobacco and alcohol control department, Support Foundation “Rigra” and Red Cross Alytus.

30 November, 2016.  168 new HIV infections a year.  The Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS (ULAC) announces that there are 168 new HIV cases this year in Lithuania. More than one third of them (38.7 percent.) are found among injecting drug users. More information:

18 November, 2016. During European HIV testing week – free HIV tests only by international donor funds. A press release. Association “Demetra”, together with European organizations, institutions and government leaders, invites for free and anonymous HIV testing during the HIV testing week on 18-25 of November.  This unique opportunity in Lithuanian is being organized for the 4th time by this non-governmental organization. During the past 4 years, Lithuanian government did not manage to offer free HIV testing for the traditional campaign “European HIV testing week”, which was supported by the by EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis. The European Commission regularly demands the governments to fund the science-based interventions such as HIV testing, however the Lithuanian authorities contribute to the free HIV testing only by advertising private labs and their paid services. Lithuania is perhaps the only EU country where HIV testing either costs or is a long lasting and not anonymous process because the patient needs to visit a number of health care professionals.

2 November, 2016. A “Harm Reduction International” campaign “10 by 20”. The world spends 100 billion dollars a year to fight drug addiction, but only $ 160 million dollars a year on drug harm reduction. If at least 10% of inefficient system of penalties would be redirected to harm reduction and health services – we could double the HIV and hepatitis C prevention and avoid thousands of drug use overdoses with the help of Nalaxone. “Harm Reduction International” announces the harm reduction campaign “10 by 20”, which encourages the governments to turn to the evidence-based and cost-effective drug policies and practices, aimed at safety and health of drug users and their families. More about the campaign “10 by 20” and “Harm Reduction International”.

29 September, 2016. The „I Can Live“ Coalition became a member of International Drug Policy Consortium.
The “I Can Live” Coalition became the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) member. This global network is celebrating the 10th anniversary and already unites 154 NGOs from all over the world. IDPC promotes and advocates for an objective and open discussion on the effective drug policy at national and international level, seeks a science-based drug policy and effective harm reduction of drug use. IDPC produces briefing papers, disseminates key resources on drug policy, builds the advocacy capacity of the consortium members and partners, and offers expert advice to policy makers and officials around the world. More information:

23 September, 2016. A press release: The dependence diseases receive “penalties treatment” again in Lithuania.
In response to the fact that 48 persons were arrested for drug use in Vilnius Roma camp on the 14th of September, the “I Can Live” Coalition issued a press release “The dependence diseases receive “penalties treatment” again in Lithuania”. According to the Police, such demonstrative “actions” will be repeated in the future, although such enforcements in Lithuania are not new. While Lithuania can only offer an “offender status”, increasing number of unpaid fines and the way to jail for people, who suffer from drug dependence, other European countries are more and more addressing their drug policies towards health and social services system. Let us hope that Lithuania will soon follow the advanced European countries as a good example so that the words of Lithuanian Minister of Health J. Pozela will not remain just as a promise. During UNGASS he said: “We have to balance our drug policy and implement it in accordance with human rights and public health”.

16 September, 2016. Why is the health and social services-oriented drug policy so important?
On the 14th of September, 48 persons were arrested in Vilnius Roma camp for illegal drug and psychoactive substances acquisition or disposal of small quantities. Police draw up protocols of administrative offenses (under the administrative Code Art. 44). In such way, the law authorities still seek to carry out “drug abuse prevention” programs in Lithuania. However the majority of fines remain unpaid, but people, dependent of psychoactive substances use, do not stop to flow to Vilnius Roma camp. Just because psychoactive substances acquisition or disposal of small quantities, is still punished instead of directing people to the psychosocial help system – the punishments and fines don not reach its‘ primer goal to change the behaviour of people who use drugs.

8 July, 2016. Commitment to reduce the restrictive quotas for syringes exchange.
In response to continuous official letters regarding the NSP procedures description and quality improvement, on the 16th of June the MoH finally agreed to change the syringes exchange ratio to 1:7 (instead of 1:3). According to the “I Can Live” Coalitions’ experts, the existing ratio is too low and unjustified, so The Coalition repeatedly proposed it to be changed. A low ration of syringes exchange reduces the effectiveness of HIV and other blood spreading diseases’ prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to distribute 200 sterile syringes and needles for one injective drug user per year, in order to effectively stop the HIV infection spread through the injections. Meanwhile, in Lithuania one regular NSP client received 75 syringes in 2014. In comparison, in neighbouring Estonia 2,2 millions of syringes were distributed during the year 2013. This is 13 times more that in Lithuania, although the coverage of injective drug users in both countries is very similar.

16 June, 2016. After UNGASS: towards an effective drug policy in Lithuania.
Continuing the co-operation initiative in drug policy and public health, The “I Can Live” Coalition, together with the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department and The National Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition, organized a round table discussion with Lithuanian Minister of health J. Pozela and police representative Saulius Briginas. The discussion covered the co-operation development between NGO and state institutions. The Minister emphasized that the most important issues in Lithuanian drug policy must be the scientific evidence-based tools and inter-institutional cooperation. Other specific issues were also discussed during the meeting: the MoH will involve NGO representatives into the drug policy related working groups and will support the NGO platform development. The National Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition representative N. Gostautaitė Midttun emphasized the importance to increase the access to addiction disorders treatment and to develop the treatment availability system as an alternative for punishment.

15 June, 2016. A press release: Why Lithuania refuses to save lives?
The „I Can Live“ Coalition together with NGO „Resetas“ distributed a press release „Why Lithuania refuses to save lives?“ in response to the fact, that Lithuania is among countries, which count the highest number of injective drug overdose deaths every year. According to The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Report, during the year 2015, the drug overdose deaths in Lithuania reached the highest number of 90 persons. In addition to the largest number of newly infected with HIV through the injective drug use in the EU, Lithuania could soon become an overdose epidemic country. Lithuanian Ministry of Health (MoH) reacts paradoxically to this: the MoH has suspended so far the only overdose prevention initiative, which was temporary implemented in 2015 in response to the outbreak of drug overdose in Vilnius. To avoid looking for ways to distribute Naloxone for injective drug users, Lithuanian officials also ignore the World Health Organization (WHO, 2014) recommendations to enhance the implementation of death prevention and increase the public access to necessary medicine. These recommendations were also emphasized during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in New York by the Lithuanian Minister of health J. Pozela

 June, 2016. Substitution treatment in prisons: possible in Estonia, but not in Lithuania? Despite the fact that the effectiveness of substitution treatment for opioid dependence has long been based on solid evidence, endorsed by the World Health Organization and other UN agencies and must be available according to Lithuanian regulation, such treatment is abruptly stopped once a person enters into prison. The United Nations agencies, NGOs and state institutions have been raising this issue for years, the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice formally admitted the importance of the opioid substitution therapy in prisons only in the autumn of 2015. However, its’ actual implementation has not yet moved forward. Therefore, a high level visit of the representatives of Lithuanian Prison Department was organized to Estonian prisons in order to show how the treatment is practically implemented there.

23 March, 2016. The discussion about NSP establishment in Jonava region. A discussion “The importance and demand on harm reduction services in Jonava region” took place on 9th of March at Jonava municipality. The discussion was organized by The Coalition “I Can Live” together with the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department of the Jonava municipality. The main highlight of the round table was to discuss the upcoming EU Structural funds opportunities for the development of the infrastructure of harm reduction services through the National Health Disparities Reduction Program. The representative of an informal Jonava drug users’ community drew everyone’s attention to the problems the community faces due to the fact that there is no access to harm reduction services in Jonava region. The participants of the round table discussion had a lot of constructive questions to the community representative. It was agreed that Jonava municipality will further cooperate with The Coalition “I Can Live” in order to explore the possibilities of setting up the harm reduction services in the region in the nearest future.

10 March, 2016. Drug users community activists were learning to produce videos for advocacy. The drug user community activists from Vilnius and Kaunas participated in the video advocacy training and learned how to make short advocacy films. The goal of the training was to support the drug user communities with the video advocacy skills for voicing their situation and needs. The participants were trained by the post-production specialist from Ukraine Julia Palagnyuk. She provided training on making video and sound post-production so that participants could make complete videos themselves out of their video material. The videos will be used to support the drug user community’ advocacy activities for harm reduction and service development in Lithuania.

26 February, 2016. A round table discussion on the importance of harm reduction services in Švenčionys region. A round table discussion was organized on 26 February, 2016 in Švenčionys municipality on the importance, benefits and practical implementation of harm reduction services: needle and syringes programs. The discussion aims to introduce the local authority and professionals to harm reduction services and their benefits for individual and for the society in order to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and other address other consequences of drug use. Despite the fact that harm reduction programs are well regulated by Lithuanian, their implementation and coverage is still lagging behind.

22 February, 2016. The “I Can Live” Coalition organizes the round table discussion “The demand of harm reduction programs in Jurbarkas region”. The “I Can Live” Coalition initiated and organized a round table discussion on the development of harm reduction services in Jurbarkas region. The discussion was held on 22 February in Jurbarkas municipality and was focused on the importance, benefits and practical implementation of harm reduction services: needle and syringes programs and opioid substitutional therapy. The aim of the round table meeting was to introduce the local authority, politicians and professionals to the benefits of harm reduction for individuals and the community: reduction of the spread of infectious diseases and other consequences related to drug use. The main highlight of the round table was to discuss the upcoming EU Structural funds opportunities for the development of the infrastructure of harm reduction services through the National Health Disparities Reduction Program.

02 December 2015. “Recommendations on the Development of Harm Reduction Services and Improvement of their Quality in Lithuania” were published.  The Coalition shared the final version of the Analysis of accessibility, expenditures and funding of harm reduction services as well as the specific Recommendations for governmental institutions on the development of harm reduction services and improvement of their quality in Lithuania. The Analysis had been prepared in cooperation with scientists from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Vilnius and based on the adapted international methodology. The Coalition actively continues its advocacy activities regarding the sustainable funding of harm reduction services and high quality assurance, involving organisations “Resetas” and “Rigra”, which unite drug users into this work.

23 November 2015. The proposals on the quality improvement of NSP services were submitted to the Ministry of Health. In order to improve the quality of NSP services, the Coalition of NGOs and experts “I Can Live” suggests to introduce amendments to some articles of the Procedure on Implementation of Harm Reduction Programs (Order of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania Nr. V­584 of 5 July 2006). On 16 November 2015 the Coalition provided specific suggestions in writing to the Ministry of Health.

11 September 2015. The Coalition recommends to increase the coverage of NSP services threefold. Complicated financial situation of NSP service rooms, extremely limited accessibility of provided services and their prospective in our country were discussed at the Ministry of Health last week. The meeting initiated by the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department on request of the Coalition “I Can Live” was attended by Vice-Minister of Health Jadvyga Zinkevičiūtė, Director of Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department Inga Juozapavičienė, Deputy Director of Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS Kęstutis Krivickas, Deputy Director of Vilnius Centre for Addictive Disorders Aušra Širvinskienė, Director of Administration at Coalition of NGOs and experts “I Can Live” Jurgita Poškevičiūtė and others.

18 September 2015. Advocacy capacity was built during the training. The Coalition “I Can Live” organised training sessions in Vilnius and Kaunas during August and September. Participants from target groups – people who use drugs or have a history of drug use – were provided the opportunity to build their advocacy capacity regarding the sustainable increase of accessibility of harm reduction services. They were as well trained to properly prepare for participation in further advocacy activities of the Project “Harm Reduction Works – Fund It!”. Attendees from Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Jonava participated in the training. The trainings were organized implementing the Regional Project “Harm Reduction Works – Fund It!”, which is financially supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

28 September 2015. The Dialogue on funding the response to AIDS among key populations started in Tbilisi. More than 300 participants from 30 countries came to Tbilisi, where the three-day Regional Forum “Road to Success” took place. The event included the discussions about financial mechanisms necessary to prevent the spread of the disease in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Participants of the Forum included: ministers of health, prominent healthcare experts, UN representatives as well as leaders of international organisations, civil society and communities of people who use drugs.

15 August 2015. People who use drugs: “Support. Don’t punish!”. The NGO “Resetas”, which represents interests of drug users community, organised a public relations event “Support. Don’t punish!” in Vilnius in the middle of August, which is part of an international campaign The event aimed at raising awareness about issues related to decriminalisation of drug use in Lithuania and took place at the Ministry of Justice. Initiators and organisers of this event prepared the package of questions and proposals addressed to Minister of Justice..

03 July 2015.  Harm reduction programs – gate to help. The scientific-practical conference “Harm Reduction: Healthcare and Social Services for People Who Use Drugs” took place in Vilnius on 30 June 2015. The event was targeted at municipal health administrators and specialists of public health in order to provide them the information about harm reduction programs, their benefits for injection drug users and the society as well as to share best practices of harm reduction on the municipal level. Challenges and barriers impeding the proper accessibility of harm reduction services were also discussed during the conference.

06 June 2015. The plan of accessibility of treatment in places of imprisonment will be created. On 5 May the representatives of the Coalition “I Can Live” met with the responsible officers from the Ministry of Justice and the Prison Department under the Ministry of Justice. The aim of the meeting was to discuss specific steps on continuing provision of the opioid substitution therapy in places of imprisonment for opioid-dependent people, who received such treatment at large.

09 April 2015.  Tender: organisations uniting people who use drugs in Lithuania are selected. The European Harm Reduction Network announced the tender to select up to 2 organisations / communities, which represent people who use drugs. The organisations / communities, which will win the tender, will become partners of the “I Can Live” Coalition and will work in the Regional Programme “Harm Reduction Works – Fund It!” in Lithuania by 31 March 2016.

05 April 2015. Advocacy activities to expand harm reduction services are developed. On 27 March 2015 on the initiative of the “I Can Live” Coalition the seminar “Planning of Harm Reduction Advocacy Activities” was organised. Representatives of NGOs, healthcare policy authorities and healthcare  institutions, NSP sites workers as well as members of communities of people who used drugs participated in the seminar. The meeting aimed at informing attendees about the levels of accessibility of harm reduction services (NSP and OST sites), funding of such services as well as developing the plan of advocacy activities to enhance harm reduction services in Lithuania.

04 December 2014. Lithuania has joined the Regional Program “Harm Reduction Works – Fund It!” In November 2014 the “I Can Live” Coalition joined the Regional Project “Harm Reduction Works – Fund It!”, which is funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. On 1 April 2014 the Global Fund concluded the agreement with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) on the financial support for this first regional HIV/AIDS project in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with the budget of 4 561 958 Euro for 3 years. This Regional Project is mainly focused on addressing AIDS epidemic, developing advocacy activities to sustainably fund drug harm reduction services and including the partner countries: Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Belarus and Lithuania.